Janesville66.2°

DOT to study improvements to Highway 11 west of Janesville

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GINA R. HEINE
August 10, 2008
— The state Department of Transportation is taking two steps forward in the discussion to expand Highway 11 between Janesville and Dubuque, Iowa.

The DOT is planning two studies of the corridor.


The first study would start in 2010 and focus on the 38 miles between Janesville and Monroe. The second study would begin in 2012 and look at the section of highway from Monroe to Dubuque.


State Rep. Brett Davis, R-Oregon, has been pushing for the project since holding a forum in 2006 to discuss converting the highway to four lanes.


“Ultimately, our work has paid off,” he said.


His goal, he said, is to significantly improve the highway or expand it to four lanes because it is a “major artery” through southern Wisconsin and is important to the economy and for creating jobs.


Davis cites success in other parts of the state:


-- From 1990 to 2001, new or expanding businesses in Wisconsin created 80,000 jobs. Ninety percent of those new jobs were located within 4 miles of key “backbone” highways.


-- When the state invested $450 million to build four-lane Highway 29 from Eau Claire to Green Bay, the result was new and expanding businesses creating nearly 5,000 jobs from 1996 to 2001. That’s more than twice the number created in the previous six years.


The DOT’s traffic counts on Highway 11 in 2007 show varying amounts of traffic through the corridor:


-- Between Janesville and Monroe, counts vary from about 5,800 to 7,000 with more traffic near Monroe.


-- The numbers decrease west of Monroe, dropping to about 3,200 near Iowa.


The DOT plans to gather data on traffic volumes, crash rates, access and environmental constraints, said Michael Hoelker, planning supervisor with the DOT.


Officials then would look at possible solutions for safety and operations issues, such as consolidating or eliminating access points and intersection improvements, he said.


The DOT will work with local officials to see how highway improvements fit with land use planning, he said.


“In essence, what our studies are proposing to do starting in 2010 and a few years after is to help enhance safety and operations and make the existing two lanes function as long as possible,” he said.


State statutes dictate when the DOT can look at creating four lanes, Hoelker said, so the DOT would need a legislative mandate to study expanding Highway 11 to four lanes.


Davis, who is up for reelection this fall, noted information from the two planned studies can be used if the Legislature or DOT decide four lanes are needed.



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