I-94 enters Wisconsin from Illinois through its southeastern corner and works its way northwest to cross the St. Croix River into Minnesota. The I-94 North-South Freeway Project, to improve the portion of the freeway between Milwaukee and Illinois, is the fastest-paced “mega project” in Wisconsin Department of Transportation history.
Widening I-94 from three lanes to four in each direction between College Avenue in Milwaukee County and Highway 142 in Kenosha County is projected to be completed by December 2021. The freeway expansion will help ease congestion where the WisDOT forecasts traffic to grow from 83,000 to 153,000 vehicles per day to 100,000 to 200,000 vehicles per day by 2034, largely due to the development of the Foxconn Technology Group campus being constructed in Mount Pleasant.
Tech upgrades being built into the freeway expansion include an autonomous vehicle lane planned to move goods and possibly even workers between Foxconn’s campus and Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport in the future. These upgrades are largely credited for the $160 million grant the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the I-94 project in June 2018.
Reconstruction of northbound lanes through the segment between Highway 142 and Highway 20 in Kenosha and Racine counties began in June 2018. The reconstruction of this segment included updates to entrance and exit ramps at County Road KR and Highway 11, which were reconstructed and reopened in late 2018. Four lanes of traffic in each direction are scheduled to open in late 2019.
Work on the 12 miles of northbound lanes between Highway 20 in Racine County and College Avenue in Milwaukee County began in July 2018, resulting in temporary lane closures and a reduction in the speed limit from 70 mph to 60 mph. This segment of the project includes reconstruction of the interchanges at Highway K, Seven Mile Road, South 27th Street and Ryan Road. The full four lanes of traffic in each direction of this segment are also scheduled to open in late 2019.
WisDOT projects all eight I-94 lanes in the reconstruction project will open by Memorial Day 2020.
Other key regional transportation options
The 14 Wisconsin commercial ports collectively handle more than 30 million tons of cargo each year. In 2018, Port Milwaukee handled 2.4 million tons of cargo. Port Milwaukee also received a $3 million state grant to upgrade railroad track, paving the way for the potential resumption of intermodal container service.
MITCHELL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
More than 7 million passengers traveled through Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport in 2018. In addition to offering nonstop flights to more than 40 destinations, the airport runs cargo charter services with Federal Express, UPS, DHL and the U.S. Postal Service. Other airports in southeastern Wisconsin include Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport in Milwaukee, Waukesha County Airport (Crites Field) in Waukesha, John H. Batten Airport in Racine and the Kenosha Regional Airport in Kenosha.
Passenger traffic on Amtrak’s Hiawatha service between Milwaukee and Chicago hit a new high during the 2018 fiscal year. The Hiawatha served 844,396 passengers in the 2018 fiscal year, up 1.8 percent from fiscal 2017, according to Amtrak. In addition, each year freight rail companies utilize 4,200 miles of track to carry nearly 3 million carloads of freight throughout Wisconsin.