In the early 20th Century, UW Eau Claire was founded and various industries and factories built in the city, most notably the Uniroyal Tire Plant. The plant closed in 1994 which devastated the city initially, but emerging businesses such as the growth of Menards’ Corporate Headquarters allowed the city to continue to grow.
Eau Claire is the only major city in Wisconsin that does not have any state highways that travel through the central city. All of the state maintain highways within Eau Claire are at least four lanes and are all either expressways or freeways with access only at intersections and interchanges. They are also all on the National Highway System.
The most significant construction projects since 1990 are the North Crossing Expressway (Wis 312) and the US 53 Freeway. North Crossing provided another bridge over the Chippewa River to serve the north side of Eau Claire. Before the project, north side traffic had to travel through Downtown Eau Claire to cross the Chippewa River. The US 53 freeway was completed in 2006 and relieved Hastings Way of major traffic backups. It also allowed for non-stop travel between I-94 and Superior.