Wisconsin DOT Begins Planning Process for I90/94 Corridor

July 5, 2022

Project leaders from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) met with DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce members on June 28th to outline the scope and steps of the study WisDOT put together after gathering information from the public. The study is part of a plan for reconstructions and repairs of Interstates 39, 90, and 94. 

Public engagement is an important aspect of the study, according to WisDOT. There are public informational meetings planned for September 2022, May 2023, and October 2023 before a June 2024 public hearing on the draft version of the environmental impact statement.

WisDOT also includes a major projects section on their website, listing frequently asked questions, and sections to make direct comments on the issues. 

The planners hope to form three advisory citizen committees. The first would include private citizens such as business owners and residents living near the project area. Another group will be local elected officials. The final group would bring in people like local engineers, community planners, and public works staff.

The 29 miles of interstate highway is the longest stretch of its kind in the United States, acting as the primary freight corridor in the state. Yearly, it has 23% of the vehicle truck count, carrying $106 billion in freight. It connects Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Madison and provides a connection to the tourism hub of the Wisconsin Dells area.

The Wisconsin River Bridges Project bisects the study overview. This section of interstate includes Wisconsin River crossings near Portage and in the Town of Dekorra. Those bridges were built in 1961 during the initial interstate construction and they are nearing the end of their lifespan. Construction of the replacement bridges is slated for 2024-2027. The position of the bridges will shift slightly as the state plans to keep Interstate traffic going in three lanes each way during the rebuild.

The state legislature has only enumerated funding for the study phase of the project. The project study plan is scheduled to be completed in 2024. Legislative debate and enumeration could come in 2025 and multiple years of work could begin in 2027-28.

This is an environmental study to develop a preferred project alternative that will address safety issues, aging infrastructure and existing and future traffic volumes.

A number of factors are contributing to the need for the project:

The first being traffic count, which ranges from 40,000 to 108,000 cars a day. The heaviest traffic counts occur on Fridays and Saturdays in the summer. Traffic counts taken in 2021 show heavier usage than before the pandemic.

Second is the condition of the pavement. WisDOT project manager Frank Pritzlaff described it woeful, saying the last major pavement project was between 1985-1992. The condition of the pavement and other issues are contributing to more traffic crashes and longer travel time.

The study will not consider bypass alternatives to the east. Any changes would be determined as the study progresses through alternatives development, environmental analysis and public engagement activities.

There will also be environmental studies for US-51 (Stoughton Road) from Voges Road in McFarland to Hwy. 19 in DeForest. The studies will evaluate needs and alternatives in two sections to address land use trends, traffic operations and safety needs unique to each section. The US-51 (Stoughton Road) South Section is between Voges Road and WIS-30, and the US-51 (Stoughton Road) North Section is between WIS-30 and WIS-19.


Source: WisDOT

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