Lane location questioned for I-90/39 expansion

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012
— Will a third lane of traffic on Interstate 90/39 be built inside or outside the existing roadway?

That was a key question Tuesday at a state Department of Transportation presentation on a project that will expand I-90/39 from two lanes in each direction to three.

It's a decision that could affect landowners who might be forced to sell property to the state for right-of-way if the road expands outward.

It's an equally important consideration for safe medians, environmental integrity and topography, said Jeff Hanson, a project manager with Dane Partners, a consortium of companies providing consulting services to the DOT.

The ultimate resolution, he said, likely will be a combination of both.

A 22-mile stretch of the Interstate that runs from the Rock/Dane county line north to the Beltline in Madison was the focus of Tuesday's meeting.

The northern segment, as it is being called, is part of a larger, 45-mile expansion of I-90/39 between the Wisconsin/Illinois state line and the Beltline.

The DOT plans similar public meetings for both the central and southern segments.

The project would be a complete reconstruction of the road, its interchanges and over- and underpasses, Hanson said. Therefore, the new road might be slightly reconfigured and not require the addition of a third lane exclusively to the inside or outside.

The project is still in the design phases, Hanson said. The department should have a better handle on right-of-way requirements later this year.

Construction on all three segments likely will start in 2015 and end in 2021. Two lanes on I-90/39 will always be open, except for some occasional reductions to one lane during off-peak hours.

Work will be phased in on all three segments simultaneously, and the department is now considering alternate routes, including the reconstruction of Highway 73 in Dane County and a possible connection between the Highway 11 bypass and Highway 14 in Rock County.

The Dane County segment now carries 44,000 vehicles per day. That is expected to grow to 64,000 by 2040, Hanson said.

The northern segment also includes four interchanges that will be reconfigured.

The Highway 51/73 interchange north of Edgerton will go from a partial cloverleaf to a diamond design.

Farther north, the Highway 51 interchange east of Stoughton will look much as it does today, but it will be improved to allow Interstate access at higher speeds with greater maneuverability, Hanson said.

The County N interchange will be reconfigured, and the Beltline intersection will have an entirely different look, he said.

"That is the big one," he said, eliciting both groans and chuckles from the 90 or so people in attendance.

Traffic projections call for 120,000 vehicles per day on the interstate immediately north of the Beltline interchange and 70,000 just to its south.

"Obviously, there's a lot going on at that interchange," Hanson said.

Others asked Tuesday about the possibility of sound barriers along the expanded interstate in Dane County,

Craig Pringle, the DOT's project manager for the segment, said there are established department guidelines that balance the cost of the barriers with population densities.

Because the Dane County segment is primarily rural, "the chance of getting noise walls is pretty slim," he said, adding that there are studies that show the barriers sometimes exacerbate noise problems.

On the Web

For more information on the Interstate 90/39 expansion project, including its three segments, visit i39-90.wi.gov.

Last updated: 8:04 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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