TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT: Report reveals highway congestion is costing motorists time and money

March 9, 2016

Motorists in Wisconsin experienced a total of 12.4 million hours of traffic delay over a one-year period, according to a new report by WisDOT

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) released new data showing that nine of 20 Milwaukee area freeway segments are so congested that motorists must allow more than twice as much time to consistently complete their trips during peak travel times as they would under uncongested conditions. Additionally, two of the freeway segments are so congested that motorists must allow more than three times as much time to consistently complete their trips during peak travel times.

The traffic data can be found in WisDOT’s "Travel Time Reliability and Delay" Fall 2015 Report, which details travel time and delay data for urban and rural corridors throughout Wisconsin.

The report uses recorded traffic data to measure the extra time motorists must plan into their trip to be assured of consistent on-time arrival at their destination during congested travel periods. Segments with high multiples of peak vs. normal travel time are considered "unreliable."

According to the report, the most unreliable trips are for travel on the Milwaukee area freeway system. For travel westbound on I-894 from the Hale Interchange to the Zoo Interchange motorists must allow nearly 17 minutes in the morning hours to consistently complete what is a 5-minute trip without congestion. Travelers on southbound US 45 from the Waukesha County line to the Zoo Interchange must allow 34 minutes in the afternoon for what is a 10-minute trip without congestion. Planning time indexes for other Milwaukee and Madison area freeway segments are summarized in the report.

Delays and their costs are significant. During a one-year period, drivers in Wisconsin experienced a total of 12.4 million hours of traffic delay, with a corresponding cost of $387 million. Hours of delay increased 2.8 million hours during the 2015 fall quarter compared to the 2014 fall quarter.

WisDOT is proposing improvements to relieve congestion on two of the most congested segments in the Milwaukee region: I-94 between the Marquette Interchange and the Zoo Interchange, and I-43 between Glendale and Grafton.