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Economic importance of the Interstate

Case study 2: Economic Significance of I-94: Eau Claire to Hudson

I-94 study corridor-state perspective

I-94 study corridor - Eau Claire to Hudson

I-94 study corridor - regional perspective

I-94 study corridor stretches across the state

Primary findings about the communities and counties located along the I-94 Eau Claire-Hudson study corridor:

  • The combined total population in the 35 communities along the I-94 study corridor has grown by 32% between 1990 and 2000, substantially faster than the Wisconsin and Minnesota statewide growth rates as a whole (10% and 12%, respectively). St. Croix County's population grew at the second highest rate in Wisconsin.
  • Between 1990 and 2000, in communities on both the Wisconsin and Minnesota sides of the I-94 study corridor, employment grew at significantly higher rates than statewide (27% along the Wisconsin side, in comparison with 15% statewide in Wisconsin, and 70% on the Minnesota side, in comparison with 18% statewide in Minnesota).
  • Between 1990 and 2000, St. Croix and Washington Counties' per capita income levels and ten-year increases were slightly higher than statewide in Wisconsin and Minnesota. At the very least, per capita income along the I-94 study corridor has kept pace with Minnesota and Wisconsin growth rates.
  • During the 1990-2000 analysis period, the number of housing units along the I-94 study corridor in Washington County, Minnesota rose by 14,506, a 76% increase. The number of housing units added in communities along the I-94 study corridor in Wisconsin was substantially lower at 7,375, a 19% increase. These growth rates, in communities along the Interstate, were higher than statewide totals in both Wisconsin (13%) and Minnesota (12%).
  • Between 1994 and 2003, in St. Croix County, on the I-94 study corridor's western end, percent increase in tourism expenditures was higher than Wisconsin's statewide growth, while the remaining three Wisconsin counties' ten-year growth rates were lower. St. Croix County's proximity to the Twin-Cities Metropolitan Region accounts for some of the rapid growth in traveler expenditures.
  • WisDOT's commodity flow analysis shows a large volume of truck freight moving into, from, and through the Wisconsin I-94 study corridor region, illustrating the region's economic significance. Consumers and producers in the four-county area receive and transport over 15 million tons of freight. Moreover, the Interstate highway system is responsible for handling another 38 million tons of freight that just passes through the region. This overhead tonnage (38 million tons) represents 84% of all of the freight shipped by trucks through the state on I-94.
  • Surveyed Wisconsin communities provided the following facts regarding the economic impact of the Interstate 94 study:
  • Washington County in Minnesota and the western portion of the I-94 study corridor in Wisconsin are areas of high economic growth. Most of the interviewed communities believed in the relationship of the Interstate highway to retail, services, and industrial developments.
  • The Interstate has opened up business opportunities for companies along the study corridor and also expanded the job market for workers, particularly Wisconsin workers commuting to jobs in Minnesota.
  • Commercial development is attracted by some communities along the Interstate because it offers workers and shoppers faster commutes and access to shopping, along with the ability to lead a smaller-town lifestyle at more affordable land prices than in the Twin-Cities, Menomonie, and Eau Claire. High traffic volumes along the Interstate are also attractive to many companies.
  • Some communities believed that the Interstate drove the housing boom; while others felt that the residential growth was more attributed to peoples' desire to live in small, more affordable communities and commute to surrounding jobs.

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Last modified: January 6, 2010

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