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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Could adding a westbound lane to this stretch of I-94 already be working the day after construction was completed?

Is the I-94 quick fix really working already?


For the folks who head out west on I-94 during rush hour each morning, that drive had to be a daily frustration. Those of us driving east could only look across the concrete barrier with sympathy.

While our lanes would move pretty well – certainly nothing to complain about in a big city – our westbound comrades were sitting in what looked more like Chicago traffic than Milwaukee's.

After all the time and money and inconvenience expended on the new Marquette Interchange a few years ago, this daily payment of time and frustration was a compelling argument that something had been severely flubbed or overlooked in planning that project.

Cars would fill every lane from at least as far west as the stadium and all the way back Downtown, backing up ramps off the high rise bridge, 794 and 43 from the north.

But a mere few weeks ago, as part of a larger ongoing project stretching west to 70th Street, the DOT undertook a project to widen I-94 westbound from around 25th Street to about 44th Street. Yesterday, that project was completed, a week ahead of schedule.

That seems pretty amazing considering to the untrained eye it seemed near impossible to widen that stretch of road that was pretty narrow and hemmed in by bridges like the ones carrying traffic above on 27th and 35th Streets. The project didn't so much as add a lane, it seems, as give additional space for those exiting from that stretch of road, allowing non-exiting traffic to proceed more easily.

I was tempted to give the route a try on the way home yesterday, but decided against that. While I often take 94 eastbound in the morning, I generally avoid it like the plague going west in the afternoon.

But this morning, while driving Downtown, I couldn't help but notice the lack of backups. Sure, there were vehicles, but they were all moving at what appeared to be the speed limit. In fact, for the first time in recent memory – barring accidents or other blockages – westbound traffic appeared to be moving more efficiently than eastbound traffic.

Could such a quick fix – and one finished early, to boot – have corrected this problem?

Talkbacks

TheyThink | April 12, 2013 at 10:03 a.m. (report)

A selling point for people looking to relocate to the Milwaukee area is shorter commute times. I don't understand the mentality that people will want to come to Milwaukee (or stay) because our traffic/commute times continue to rise. One would think that it should be a goal to make it as easy as possible for people to get from Point A to Point B, not more difficult and more time-consuming.

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Bobby Tanzilo | April 12, 2013 at 9:58 a.m. (report)

Yes, I'm ready for the 794 funnel to change back. They did say there are some minor tasks to tend to overnight and I assume repainting the funnel lines are part of that.

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Jeff | April 12, 2013 at 9:48 a.m. (report)

Also, the 794 "funnel" hasn't been restored to two lanes, so there's still work left to do. The WisDOT site says the project will be completed in mid-May.

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Jeff | April 12, 2013 at 8:56 a.m. (report)

Yes, the crews have been gone for a couple days, but it's also been raining like crazy. If they added a lane in there, it's hard to find. Traffic was light this morning, but it's Friday -- and there were almost no cars on 794. If indeed the project is done, they need to think about repaving: They left a lot of rough, uneven pavement.

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