Part of next year's road construction could be plans to convert U.S. Highway 41 into an interstate.
Anyone who’s driven U.S. Highway 41 north of Milwaukee knows that for all intents and purposes, it’s a superhighway.
It carries thousands of cars and heavy trucks every day to places such as Oshkosh, Appleton, and Green Bay. But if a plan under consideration by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation moves forward, U.S. 41 will become Interstate 41 as soon as next year.
"Having that interstate shield - that blue and red shield - will allow the areas to market to nationally recognized companies," says WisDOT project manager Tammy Rabe, " and people do recognize that interstate highways have a certain quality that a U.S. highway may not have."
Interstate 41 would from Fox Valley to Green Bay. She says the road is already treated as an interstate as far as funding allotment and speed limits go, but it is time to make it official.
The change would affect a lot of people, from commuters to visitors to businesses. The classification changing of 41 would allow for certain types of semitrucks to use the road as well, as there are weight and axle restrictions that vary depending on the certification given. Rabe says that has business excited for the planned change, as trucks could then bring in more products, which in turn could bring more customers.
There will not be many physical changes in the conversion process, mostly involving changing the signage. But the bigger change is rerouting the roads:
- Interstate 41 will be rerouted to follow U.S. 41. Currently, it follows 94 and weaves into some city streets. It will now be rerouted to follow interstates 894 and 45 and go around Milwaukee instead of going through it.
- Appleton Avenue and Lisbon Avenue, two city streets that U.S. 41 takes, will be renamed Wisconsin 175.
- The section of 41 between Miller Park/I-94 and North Avenue will also be part of Wisconsin 175.
If all goes as predicted in the legislature, contractor bid-letting will begin in March and signs will be posted in summer and fall of 2014.