More road expansions underway in southeastern Wisconsin

Business climate


Truck traffic is the dominant freight transportation mode in Wisconsin, and southeastern Wisconsin is the busiest region. Numerous interstates and U.S. routes service the region, offering convenient access to the state’s major throughways.

The state’s longest highway enters Wisconsin from Illinois through its southeastern corner. A project to widen I-94 from six lanes to eight between College Avenue in Milwaukee County and Highway 142 in Kenosha County will begin in 2019. The project is estimated to cost $525 million.

Along I-94, seven frontage roads between Highway 20 and Highway KR will also be improved to accommodate the Foxconn Technology Group complex to be built in Racine County. The roads project is budgeted to cost between $17 million and $20 million. Work on the west frontage road is scheduled for March. Work on the east frontage road will follow and is expected to finish in November.

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Also spurred by Foxconn’s move to Racine County, state highway planners are performing a feasibility study for an autonomous vehicle lane on I-94. The lane is proposed to run between the Foxconn development site and Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will resurface an estimated 2.5 miles of Wisconsin Highway 20 between I-94 and County Highway H in March. The work will improve road conditions on Highway 20 in anticipation of increased use due to developments in Racine County.

WisDOT is also working with the Village of Mount Pleasant and Racine County to reconstruct several state, village and county roadways in Racine County. Currently, these roads are in the design and planning phase, with construction scheduled to begin in summer 2018 and end in fall 2020.

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Work on the 12 miles of interstate between Highway 20 and College Avenue is expected to be completed between 2019 and 2020, at an estimated $275 million to $325 million cost. The job will include reconstruction of the interchanges at Highway K, Seven Mile Road, South 27th Street and Ryan Road.

Further north on I-94 in Milwaukee, a polymer overlay was recently applied throughout the Marquette interchange to ensure the bridges last the 75-year life expectancy. The interchange was reconstructed in 2008, costing approximately $900 million.

The I-894 stretch between West National Avenue and South 84th Street in Milwaukee County will be resurfaced in 2018. As part of the resurfacing, the pavement is being stripped and a fourth lane will be added to reduce congestion and improve the transition of traffic through the Zoo Interchange.

Work on the $1.7 billion Zoo Interchange reconstruction project, in western Milwaukee County, is ongoing. It is the busiest interchange in Wisconsin.

Southeastern Wisconsin transportation systems


Port Milwaukee handled 2.57 million metrics tons of cargo in 2017. The Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association estimates that 14 Wisconsin commercial ports handle more than 30 million tons of cargo valued at greater than $2.4 billion each year.


A total of 6.9 million passengers flew out of or into General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee in 2017, up from 6.8 million in 2016. The airport serves 49 destinations nonstop. It also runs cargo charter services with Federal Express, UPS, DHL and the United States Postal Service. MKE is the only airport in Wisconsin or Illinois with service from all the major domestic airlines. Other airports in southeastern Wisconsin include Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport in Milwaukee, Waukesha County Airport (Crites Field), John H. Batten Airport in Racine and the Kenosha Regional Airport.


Nearly 4,200 miles of track comprise Wisconsin’s freight railroad network, which is served by four major (Class I) railroads, three regional railroads, two local railroads and one switching and terminal railroad. According to Forward Wisconsin, the state’s 10 railroads carry nearly 3 million carloads of freight weighing in at more than 160 million tons each year.


Southeastern Wisconsin is served by three passenger rail services.

  • Amtrak routes: The Hiawatha Service, a corridor service operating seven round trips per day (six on Sunday) between Chicago and Milwaukee; The Empire Builder, a long-distance train operating one round trip per day between Chicago and Seattle/Portland.
  • Metra’s Union Pacific/North Line’s northernmost station is located in Kenosha. From Kenosha, the line runs 51.6 miles south to the Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago.

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