AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

New rules for political content in signatures and user profiles. See this thread for details.

Author Topic: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions  (Read 1264 times)

froggie

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 10879
  • Location: Greensboro, VT
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 10:39:18 PM
    • Froggie's Place
1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« on: August 14, 2019, 02:17:05 PM »

While searching for information on the 1956 highway act (that funded the Interstate system), I came across this Google-scanned document from 1963.  It's a report from the Wisconsin State Highway Commission to then-BPR requesting what was effectively 6 new/additional Interstate routes:  a long-distance route from Milwaukee to Superior, a spur off that longer route serving Green Bay, and four smaller urban routes.  I'll briefly describe the six routes below:

- The Milwaukee-Superior route was intended by the state to provide express service to the 1.8 million persons (as of the 1960 census) living in the corridor.  It will pass through and connect with much of the industrial and agricultural greatness of Wisconsin.  It will make the many recreation areas of Wisconsin readily accessible to the millions of persons living in Chicago, northern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio areas.  All the major port facilities of Wisconsin will be served by this route..

From Milwaukee, it generally follows existing I-43 to Saukville.  From Saukville, it angles slightly north-northeastward, meeting WI 32 west of Oostburg.  It then continues more or less due north along the WI 32 and WI 42 corridors (passing through Sheboygan Falls and west of Sheboygan proper) to near Osman.  It continues due north from Osman away from the WI 42 corridor to near Whitelaw, where it turns northwestward, crossing the Manitowoc/Brown County line south of Wayside, passing just south of Greenleaf, and crossing the Fox River just north of Wrightstown.

It would cross US 41 (today's I-41) in the vicinity of the Brown/Outagamie County line (Exit 154), pass near Black Creek (WI 47/WI 54), and pass just southwest of Clintonville.  Between Clintonville and Wittenberg, it generally parallels US 45 to the north but takes a more direct path.  It generally follows the WI 29 corridor to Wausau but would have taken a more direct path from Wittenberg to Hatley.

At Wausau, it turns north along the US 51 corridor...it's reasonable to assume that today's 4-lane US 51 from Wausau to north of US 8 would have been utilized for the Interstate corridor.  The corridor was to have passed west of Minocquia and Woodruff (maps show west of Kawaguesaga Lake) and a more direct path to Manitowish, passing east of Fence Lake).  The route would then generally follow the US 51 corridor to Hurley.

West of Hurley, the route would have generally followed the US 2 corridor, passing north of Saxon and Cedar, south of Ashland, north of Brule, and south of Maple.  Finally, it likely would have followed the built US 2/53 freeway south of Superior and the unbuilt US 53 freeway through Superior before tying into the I-535 Blatnik Bridge (already completed by then).

All told, the Milwaukee-Superior route was proposed at approximately 411 miles with an estimated cost of $301 million.  No Interstate route number is mentioned in the report, but given that a Milwaukee-Green Bay Interstate was later designated as I-43, it's reasonable to guess that the Milwaukee-Superior route would have become I-43.

- The Green Bay spur off of the main Milwaukee-Superior route would connect to Green Bay as well as serve as a western Green Bay bypass for through traffic.  It would be 23 miles along and generally follow today's I-41/US 41 from where the main route would have intersected I-41 near the Brown/Outagamie County line (Exit 154) and extending north to Suamico.  Maps suggest a northern terminus at Harbor Lights Rd.  No Interstate route number is mentioned, but assuming the main Milwaukee-Superior route would have been I-43, an odd I-x43 for the spur seems reasonable.

- A 13.5 mile Madison urban loop route was proposed.  From the I-90/Beltline interchange, it would have followed the Beltline west to John Nolen Drive, then along John Nolan Drive to downtown.  The route along the isthmus through downtown is unclear.  The map suggests it would have passed underneath or very close to the state capitol building, then continued northeast somewhere in between Washington Ave and Johnson St.  After the Yahara River, it may have turned slightly north, perhaps along WI 113 (Pennsylvania Ave and Packers Ave).  It would have eventually tied into the existing WI 30 freeway and used that to an ending at the Badger Interchange (I-90/I-94/WI 30).  No Interstate route number was given, but an even I-x90 seems reasonable.

- A 4.8 mile spur into La Crosse was proposed.  From existing I-90 Exit 4 (US 53 North/WI 157), the spur was to have traveled slightly west-of-south, crossing the La Crosse River near the end of Darling Rd (where the rail trail crosses), then continued southward between the river and WI 16.  After crossing the BNSF Aurora Subdivision, the spur would have split, with one leg tying into WI 16 at Losey Blvd/La Crosse St and the other leg turning westward, passing north of Myrick park and Oak Grove Cemetery and tying into US 53 where it splits into the 3rd St/4th St one-way pair.  Such a route is most likely unbuildable today as it would pass through the La Crosse Marsh, but that wasn't a consideration in the early 1960s.  No Interstate route number was given, but it likely would have been an odd I-x90.

- A 2.6 mile spur into Eau Claire was proposed, and was actually built by the state.  It simply would have followed US 53 and BUSINESS US 53 from I-94/Exit 70 to US 12.

- Lastly, the map on the front cover report suggests an additional Interstate loop (besides I-894) was proposed in Milwaukee.  The report itself does not say what the detals were...they were "under separate volume" and I have been unable to locate that volume online, but the cover map suggests that a combination of the Stadium Freeway North and the Belt Freeway between I-94 and today's I-43 North would have been part of the Interstate highway recommendation.
Logged

coolkevs

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Madison WI
  • Last Login: December 06, 2019, 12:38:12 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2019, 02:56:19 PM »

Thanks for this - very interesting. Surprised they didn't just bring the route nearer to Green Bay before curving off northwest.
Logged

thspfc

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 620
  • Age: 2012
  • Location: Madison, WI metro area
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 01:56:41 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2019, 03:22:50 PM »

That's really cool. It honestly should have been built in the 60s. It would make things so much easier now. But, with all the NIMBYs and protected land between Wausau and Superior, it's not realistically going to happen.

Quote
This loop will carry very large traffic volumes since it will serve all the major traffic generating locations in the city. The 1980 estimated volume is 20k - 45k average daily traffic.
They had no idea.
Logged

The Ghostbuster

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2391
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Madison, WI
  • Last Login: December 05, 2019, 02:53:42 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2019, 05:26:57 PM »

I doubt the Milwaukee-to-Superior Highway would have been built in its entirety. The traffic demands west of Green Bay probably wouldn't have warranted a four-lane roadway (maybe that portion could have been a two-lane route). There was once an Isthmus Freeway to be constructed through the north side of downtown Madison, I'm not sure if its related to this 1963 proposal. All in all, the proposal is very intriguing.
Logged

sparker

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 6145
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 05:33:28 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2019, 06:24:12 PM »

Since the original Milwaukee-Green bay corridor (eventually designated I-43) was authorized with the 1968 legislation -- which itself was truncated from 4500 miles down to 1500 over the course of its journey through Congress, and the proposal Adam mentions was proffered only five years previously -- was the full corridor to Superior submitted for consideration when the additional '68 mileage was triple that of what was eventually authorized?   Nevertheless, the whole thing seems like a "make-work" project for WI; much of the same effect -- but with increased access to existing regional population centers (here, the Twin Cities in MN) could be accomplished by the I-43 routing, a facility along WI 29, and a direct Eau Claire-Superior route along US 53.  Even together Hurley & Ashland don't seem populous enough to warrant the additional mileage required to service (or skirt!) them.   But there were likely state legislators (and the local parties who influence them) from the northern areas who pressed for such a routing despite its inefficiencies; that's more often than not the inception point of new corridor concepts.   
Logged

froggie

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 10879
  • Location: Greensboro, VT
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 10:39:18 PM
    • Froggie's Place
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2019, 08:12:40 PM »

^ This was submitted when there was still lingering mileage available in the early '60s.  I know this because I-335 in Minneapolis was added in 1964.  The way they worded the study suggests they were also anticipating additional future Interstate mileage, and prioritized their request with the Madison, La Crosse, and Eau Claire loops/spurs receiving first priority and the Milwaukee-Superior corridor receiving second priority in segments from south to north.  One could make the argument that this 1963 study led to the inclusion of the Milwaukee-Green Bay segment in 1968...albeit on a somewhat different corridor north of Saukville.
Logged

SEWIGuy

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1147
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 09:34:15 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2019, 08:24:39 PM »

That Madison Isthmus route would have been a disaster.

But yeah the Milwaukee to Green Bay route eventually got built, but along the US-141 corridor instead of the WI-57 corridor - which makes more sense.  And eventually much of the route got built anyway, except there should be no interstate between Wausau and Superior.  That's FritzOwl-ish nonsense.
Logged

Henry

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5190
  • Age: 49
  • Location: Chicago, IL/Seattle, WA
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 11:45:37 PM
    • Henry Watson's Online Freeway
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2019, 09:27:42 PM »

It was a good thing that the Madison loop was never built, mainly because of its potentially destructive route through the downtown area.

As the La Crosse and Eau Claire spurs followed the same corridor anyway, I am somewhat surprised that no connections were proposed in between the two cities, nor to Superior. The Milwaukee-Superior routing seems a bit redundant, especially because of its proximity to I-41 and I-39, plus a zigzagging path across the state.

The NIMBYism that exists between Wausau and Superior is the same reason why I-39 cannot be extended north, although I don't see this as FritzOwl-ish, because I have proposed the exact same extension in the past.
Logged
Go Cubs Go! Go Cubs Go! Hey Chicago, what do you say? The Cubs are gonna win today!

SEWIGuy

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1147
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 09:34:15 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2019, 09:47:05 PM »

It's not necessary to extend I-39.  Possibly expanding a four lane US-51, but even that's a marginal need right now compared to others.
Logged

FightingIrish

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 298
  • Location: Wisconsin
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 11:58:21 AM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2019, 10:37:07 PM »

There's probably not enough traffic to justify a Wisconsin interstate (obviously I-39) extending up to Superior and Duluth.

With I-41 finally in place serving the Fox Valley, there really isn't a whole lot of demand for places to put in new interstates. The only one that comes to mind to me is WIS 29 from Eau Claire to Green Bay (which I would tag as a western I-96, because why the hell not?).

Oh, and maybe WIS 441.
Logged

thspfc

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 620
  • Age: 2012
  • Location: Madison, WI metro area
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 01:56:41 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2019, 09:05:31 AM »

When there was work on 51 from Tomahawk to Hazelhurst a couple years ago, the clear zones on part of the highway were extended to distances that could accommodate a four lane divided highway, so that might be in the plans for the far future, but I really don't know. 
Logged

The Ghostbuster

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2391
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Madison, WI
  • Last Login: December 05, 2019, 02:53:42 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2019, 05:36:56 PM »

Probably not. I expect US 51 will remain two-lanes north of US 8 for all time.
Logged

Revive 755

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 3746
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 10:36:45 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2019, 10:07:40 PM »

With I-41 finally in place serving the Fox Valley, there really isn't a whole lot of demand for places to put in new interstates. The only one that comes to mind to me is WIS 29 from Eau Claire to Green Bay (which I would tag as a western I-96, because why the hell not?).

Oh, and maybe WIS 441.

US 151 perhaps?  There are a couple studies for upgrading portions of it to a full freeway.
Logged

Big John

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1955
  • Age: 52
  • Last Login: Today at 12:06:32 AM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2019, 11:48:28 PM »

WIS 172 between I-41 and I-43 would be a candidate for a 3di.
Logged

JREwing78

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1056
  • Location: Janesville, WI
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 08:49:10 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2019, 01:12:10 PM »

Probably not. I expect US 51 will remain two-lanes north of US 8 for all time.

I could see eventual 4-laning up to Minocqua, but not beyond that. Hurley and Ironwood are in decline. So is Ashland. A significant port of the US-51 traffic exits at US-8 for Rhinelander and Iron River.

Any Superior -> Milwaukee traffic is well-served by US-53 and I-94. Superior -> Green Bay traffic is similarly well-served by US-53 and Hwy 29.

It's an interesting concept, but WisDOT was wise to not push the Superior -> Wausau connection. It clearly wasn't needed.
Logged

sparker

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 6145
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 05:33:28 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2019, 04:32:04 PM »

Probably not. I expect US 51 will remain two-lanes north of US 8 for all time.

I could see eventual 4-laning up to Minocqua, but not beyond that. Hurley and Ironwood are in decline. So is Ashland. A significant port of the US-51 traffic exits at US-8 for Rhinelander and Iron River.

Any Superior -> Milwaukee traffic is well-served by US-53 and I-94. Superior -> Green Bay traffic is similarly well-served by US-53 and Hwy 29.

It's an interesting concept, but WisDOT was wise to not push the Superior -> Wausau connection. It clearly wasn't needed.

I could see the I-39 designation extended north to US 8 simply because it's a traffic generator -- but beyond that, not so much.  The times I've been to the area (usually in early fall or late spring) I didn't notice enough traffic, particularly of the clearly recreational variety (RV's, towed boats, etc.), to warrant such expansion between US 8 and US 2. 
Logged

The Ghostbuster

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2391
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Madison, WI
  • Last Login: December 05, 2019, 02:53:42 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2019, 04:47:15 PM »

I'd upgrade (fictionally, of course) US 51 to freeway standards, between Exits 211 and 225, so Interstate 39 could extend all the way up to US 8. The only additional interchange I'd include between those two interchanges would be at the CTH-K/Nelson Ave. intersection (call it Exit 220).
Logged

3467

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1086
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 11:44:01 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2019, 06:57:03 PM »

What is impressive is all their major highways are 4 lane freeways or expressways. The only exception is the Wausau Superior section which is well served as mentioned.
The other is part of 12. That was just made irrelevant when Illinois killed route 53.
Logged

dvferyance

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1147
  • Location: New Berlin WI
  • Last Login: December 07, 2019, 09:11:15 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2019, 07:37:44 PM »

Probably not. I expect US 51 will remain two-lanes north of US 8 for all time.
North of Minocqua Woodruff yes. I could see it getting expanded to 4 lanes to up there but not a freeway.
Logged

triplemultiplex

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2229
  • "You read it; you can't unread it!"

  • Location: inside the beltline
  • Last Login: December 06, 2019, 09:57:20 AM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2019, 12:29:58 PM »

Fascinating bit of ambitious history.
Reminds me of a pre-interstate concept for a turnpike that might have run from Milwaukee to Green Bay to Hudson.

I never knew what had been a little freeway stub prior to the 2006 completion of the US 53 bypass was once considered for an x94. 

The La Crosse spur; versions of that lingered into the 90's, if I recall.  Though by then I'm pretty sure the concept was more boulevard and less x90. 

My knowledge of Madison freeway history didn't include that loop.  If Madison hadn't been a larger city in the 60's, maybe that would've gained more traction.  Glad it didn't.  There's no room on the Isthmus for a freeway.

The uber I-43 concept; that's a lot to pick apart.  I can imagine a world with that getting started and then cancelled beyond Wausau.  The routing north of Minocqua would've punched thru two separate Ojibwa reservations (Lac du Flambeau and Bad River).  Can't imagine that would've gone over well.  All for a very lonely road, by interstate standards.
Makes me wonder if this overkill vision of I-43 was secretly a way to give room to negotiate a Milwaukee - Green Bay interstate.  Present a massively out-sized project, then let them 'talk you down' to just MKE - GB.  If that was anyone's thinking, then it seems to have backfired as the whole thing was apparently dismissed.

I think about the Northland portion in the context of the mid century population decline experienced in western Lake Superior as the cheap ore dried up in all the iron mines.  Places like Ashland, Superior and Hurley were already passed their population peaks, but it wasn't so long ago that they were bustling. I can just imagine some old guy in an office somewhere downstate drawing lines on maps thinking that area was still happening.  In 1910, Superior was the second largest city in Wisconsin and I'm sure there were old bureaucrats in the 60's who still thought Duluth-Superior was the next Chicago.
Logged
"That's just like... your opinion, man."

mgk920

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 3502
  • Location: Appleton, WI USA
  • Last Login: Today at 03:32:01 AM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2019, 12:49:06 PM »

Quite a few of the highways that were eventually built were built on routings and use engineering standards that are different from what was planned in the 1950s and 1960s.  The original temporary south end of the US 53 freeway at old US 53/WI 124/Hastings Way between Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls was very different from what was ultimately built when the bypass freeway was completed.  Also, the original north end of the 1960s/1970s era interstate-compatible US 53 freeway at Haugen was very different from what was built when the four lanes was ultimately extended to Superior.  Ditto the US 51 four lanes at Irma, WI.

Also, I agree, in the late 19th century, locals were expecting Superior to become another Chicago.

Mike
Logged

SEWIGuy

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1147
  • Last Login: December 08, 2019, 09:34:15 PM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2019, 12:49:52 PM »

I think about the Northland portion in the context of the mid century population decline experienced in western Lake Superior as the cheap ore dried up in all the iron mines.  Places like Ashland, Superior and Hurley were already passed their population peaks, but it wasn't so long ago that they were bustling. I can just imagine some old guy in an office somewhere downstate drawing lines on maps thinking that area was still happening.  In 1910, Superior was the second largest city in Wisconsin and I'm sure there were old bureaucrats in the 60's who still thought Duluth-Superior was the next Chicago.


I also think the politics of providing services to distant geographic locales played a role.  It's the same reason UW-Superior has stayed open despite it being massively inefficient.
Logged

skluth

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 816
  • Age: 63
  • Location: Palm Springs, CA
  • Last Login: December 06, 2019, 10:16:27 AM
Re: 1963 Wisconsin Proposed Interstate Extensions
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2019, 11:19:53 PM »

It was a good thing that the Madison loop was never built, mainly because of its potentially destructive route through the downtown area.

Through the isthmus would have been near impossible in the politics of the 60's and 70's in Madison. However, I could see John Nolan Drive having been upgraded at the time. One exit could have worked for both Rimrock and Olin, with a bridge over Lakeside. It would never be built beyond the causeway crossing Monona Bay though. The parallel bike trail was built across the causeway by the late 70's and the traffic never bothered me on the trail.

I agree with the others who don't see US 51 being four lanes north of Minoqua.
Logged

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.