Traveling nearly 300 miles across Wisconsin, U.S. 45 enters the state south of Bristol and exits it at Land O' Lakes. The US route mostly consists of a secondary or local route from the Illinois state line to Oshkosh, with exceptions along freeway overlaps between Milwaukee and Germantown, and a freeway of its own between I-41 and West Bend.
Northwest from Oshkosh, U.S. 45 leaves the Interstate 41 corridor for New London, Clintonville, Antigo and Eagle River. Much of this route consists of rural two lane highway, with four lane sections between I-41 and U.S. 10 and from Clintonville northwest to Marion.
U.S. 45 is kind of an odd highway that keeps switching from being a minor highway and a major highway between Illinois and Oshkosh. The route forms the "Milwaukee Shortcut" between Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Northwoods. Even when the stretch was two lanes and a part of Wis 110, it was used frequently by motorists instead of Interstates 94 and 39. Now that the stretch of U.S. 45 is freeway along with the U.S. 10 freeway / expressway, the short cut is even easier to use.
Within the late 1980s adopted 2020 Highway Plan, U.S. 45 was not listed as a backbone route, except for the part of Wis 110 as a connector route. The Connections 2030 plan enacted in 2009 includes U.S. 45 as a backbone route (Northwoods Connection Corridor - Oshkosh to Rhinelander).
U.S. 45 Wisconsin Highway Guides
- U.S. 45 North - Oshkosh to New London
- U.S. 45 South - Split Rock to Marion
- U.S. 45 South - Marion to New London
- U.S. 45 South - Washington County
Page Updated 07-31-2016.