Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Harbor Assistance Program

In 1979, Wisconsin’s Legislature created the Harbor Assistance Program (HAP) to assist harbor communities along the Great Lakes and Mississippi River in maintaining and improving waterborne commerce. Port projects typically include dock reconstruction, mooring structure replacement, dredging, and the construction of facilities to hold dredged material. When funding is available, grant applications are accepted on a semi-annual basis on August 1 and February 1.

There are 29 ports in the state that are potentially eligible for funding through the HAP.


To be eligible for funding:

  • The project must benefit facilities that are used for cargo transfer, ship building, commercial fishing or regular ferry service;
  • The applicant must be a local unit of government or a private owner of a harbor facility;
  • The project must pass a rigorous benefit-cost analysis; and
  • The project must have been identified in a current Three-Year Harbor Development Plan.


Project selection criteria are spelled out in Section 85.095, Wis. Stats. and Wis. Admin. Code TRANS 28 and include the following: economic impact of the project; type and urgency of the project; and priority of the project.

Applications are reviewed by members of a harbor advisory council made up of representatives from:

  • University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
  • Wisconsin Department of Administration Coastal Management Program
  • Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute


Council members are appointed by the WisDOT Secretary’s Office and serve at will. Establishment of the harbor advisory council is described under Trans 28.05(3), Wis. Admin. Code as being under authority of Section 15.04 (1) (c), Wis. Stats. This Section states that the heads of departments and independent agencies shall create and appoint such councils or committees.

The following documents are available for HAP candidates:


For additional information, please contact:

Sheri Walz
Railroads and Harbors Section
(608) 267-9319

Questions about the content of this page:
Sheri Walz, sheria.walz@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: May 13, 2015

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