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Bids open for stimulus highway projects

The first Wisconsin highway projects to be done with federal economic stimulus money will cost 7 percent less than expected.

Construction bids were opened Tuesday for 26 state projects and 19 local roads and bridges.

Gov. Jim Doyle said the total cost was $114.6 million, $9 million less than what officials expected.

He calls it a good deal for taxpayers, and it will allow even more projects to benefit from the stimulus package.

It's part of a national trend, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Hood says it will result in more projects and more jobs.

Pat Goss of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association says the low bids show how hungry contractors are to get work.

He was not sure how long it would continue.

Goss said it depends mainly on the cost of building materials and those can go up and down quickly.

Wisconsin is getting $529 million federal stimulus dollars for highway projects. State and local officials have committed about half of it so far.