Today action was taken by Wisconsin's 15-member Transportation Projects Commission (TPC) to move forward with environmental studies on six potential major highway project candidates. This was the second time the TPC has met in 2011--the same group met only once in the eight years prior to 2011.
"A quality transportation system serves as the foundation of economic growth by helping move raw materials to factories, workers to jobs, and finished products to markets" said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who also serves as TPC Chairman. "Approving these projects for environmental study is a crucial step to address significant mobility and safety concerns along some of our state's key travel corridors." Projects approved for environmental study include:
· I-94, St. Croix County, US 12 to WIS 65
This six-mile segment of I-94 between US 12 and WIS 65 in St. Croix County provides direct interstate access to the cities of Hudson and Roberts and is an important route for moving freight throughout the state and region. Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) volume along the corridor is 49,000 and future AADT is expected to grow to 71,000 by 2030. Currently, an average of 31 crashes occur annually along the six-mile mile corridor. A majority of the corridor has crash rates above the statewide average.
· US 12 (Beltline Highway), Dane County, US 14 to County N
This 19-mile section of US 12 (Madison Beltline in Dane County) between County N and US 14 links the city of Madison with the Interstate highway system. Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) volumes throughout the corridor currently vary between 30,800 and 146,500 AADT and are expected to grow to between 37,900 and 172,000 by 2030. Currently, an average of over 600 crashes, including 14 fatalities occur annually along the Beltline corridor. About half of the corridor has crash rates significantly greater than the statewide average.
· I-39/90, Dane, Columbia and Sauk counties, US 12 (Madison Beltline) to Wisconsin Dells
This 56-mile section of I-39/90 in Dane, Columbia and Sauk counties provides critical interstate access to major Wisconsin cities including Madison, Wisconsin Dells, Wausau, and Eau Claire, along with Minneapolis and Chicago. Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) volumes throughout the corridor currently vary between 37,800 and 90,000 AADT and are expected to grow to between 48,100 and 117,000 by 2030. The corridor is an important route for summer tourism and for moving freight throughout the region. Currently, an average of 520 crashes including 30 fatalities occur annually along the 56-mile corridor. About 40-percent of the corridor reflects crash rates that are significantly higher than the statewide average.
· US 51, Dane County, US 12 (Beltline) to WIS 19
This approximately nine-mile corridor of US 51 between the Madison Beltline and WIS 19 in DeForest provides access to major employment and residential areas and also serves regional traffic to outlying communities. An estimated 19,100 to 49,600 vehicles drive this stretch of US 51 every day, a number that is projected to increase to between 31,900 and 69,700 vehicles by the year 2030. Currently, an average of over 250 crashes, including nine fatalities occur annually along the corridor. About 60-percent of the corridor reflects crash rates that are significantly greater than the statewide average.
· I-43, Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties, Silver Spring Rd. to WIS 60
This 14-mile segment of I-43 in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties provides critical interstate access between major metropolitan areas including Milwaukee, Chicago and Green Bay. Average Annual Daily Traffic volumes throughout the I-43 corridor currently vary between 47,600 and 92,200 AADT and are expected to grow to between 58,400 and 109,800 by 2030. Currently, an average of over 225 crashes, including five fatalities occur annually along the 14-mile corridor. About 45-percent of the corridor reflects crash rates that are significantly greater than the statewide average.
· I-94, Milwaukee County, 70th Street to 25th Street
This 3.5-mile segment of I-94 in Milwaukee County provides a critical interstate link for manufacturers, commuters and tourists within Milwaukee and the entire region. Average Annual Daily Traffic volumes throughout the I-94 corridor currently vary between 138,000 and 156,000 AADT and are expected to grow to between 171,000 and 181,000 by 2030. Currently, an average of over 300 crashes per year occur along the 3.5-mile corridor. Nearly 90-percent of the corridor reflects crash rates that are significantly greater than the statewide average.
The TPC is a public/private commission chaired by the Governor that also includes five state senators, five Assembly representatives and three citizen members. The WisDOT Secretary serves as a non-voting member. The commission typically meets in a two-year cycle. In the fall of odd-numbered years, the commission considers projects to advance for environmental study. The environmental review process for a particular highway project can vary greatly -- from a year to several years -- depending on a project's size and complexity. The process typically considers a project's potential environmental and/or social impacts, and outlines specific improvement alternatives and estimated costs.
In even-numbered years, the commission may recommend projects for enumeration (officially adding a project to the list for construction through the state budget). The TPC cannot recommend projects for enumeration unless they have successfully gone through the environmental study stage.
The 2011 -- 13 state budget revised the definition of a major highway project as having a total cost of more than $30 million and involving at least one of the following:
o Constructs a new highway route of 2.5 miles or more in length;
o Reconstructs or reconditions an existing highway by either relocating 2.5 miles or more of the existing highway or adding one or more lanes five miles or more in length to an existing highway;
o Improves to freeway standards 10 miles or more of an existing divided highway having two or more lanes in either direction;
In addition, the recently-revised state law specifies that any project with a total cost of over $75 million that is not described above also qualifies as a major highway project.
Based on the recently-revised major project definition, the TPC also acted Wednesday to move the Beltline/Verona Road Interchange project in Dane County from the State Highway Rehabilitation Program into the Major Highway's Program. More information about major highway projects in Wisconsin can be found on the Web at: www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/state/sixyear/major.htm.