Work on transforming Highway 41 – between the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee and the city of Green Bay – into an interstate began 10 years ago. Today, the process is almost complete.
When completed, the designation will raise the status of the roadway from well-known regional highway to national transportation corridor.
Economic development authorities expect the conversion to spur economic growth along the route as, historically, distribution companies and other large businesses prefer to be located along interstates over highways.
Last year, Congress approved legislation that grandfathered trucks currently using the state road — but which are over the federal highway weight limit — to continue using Highway 41 once it officially becomes an interstate. Federal weight limits are lower than current state highway limits, but the roads were built to handle the higher state weight limit. Right now, an estimated 10 to 20 percent of all trucks using 41 are over the federal limit — most of them hauling raw materials to area manufacturers.
Early this year, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will begin changing signage from the current Highway 41 to Interstate 41.