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Economic importance of the Interstate

Wisconsin's economic vitality and its ability to remain competitive depend on the efficient transport of people and goods to the nation and the world. The Interstate highway system connects many of Wisconsin's key tourism region. I-43 and I-94 run through the state's southeast region, an eight-county area that in 2004 generated 29% of the state's tourism expenditures. Some 13% of the total expenditures were generated in Milwaukee County alone.

2004 traveler expenditures by county
Wisconsin total: $11.8 billion

2004 traveler expenditures by county

Three studies illustrate the economic importance of Wisconsin's Interstate highways.

Case study 1 - Economic Significance of the Southeast Wisconsin Freeway System, 2001. The study includes Interstate highways: I-39, I-43, I-94, I-794, and I-894, to the entire state. 

Case study 2 - Economic Significance of I-94: Eau Claire to Hudson, 2005

Case study 3 - Economic Development History of Interstate-43, 2003/2004

US DOT I-43 Corridor Economic Development History

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Vital Wisconsin Interchanges

Marquette Interchange - Milwaukee

Map of Milwaukee area freeway systemSeveral Wisconsin Interstates intersect at the Marquette Interchange, which links about one-third of the state's freeway traffic to the rest of the county. The Marquette Interchange reconstruction project was completed in 2008 at a cost of $810 million dollars.

  • The Marquette Interchange connects I-94, I-794, and I-43 in downtown Milwaukee and is the cornerstone of the southeastern Wisconsin freeway system. Reconstruction of the Marquette Interchange is an important re-investment in Wisconsin's future. 
  • The original interchange, completed in 1968 at a cost of around $33 million dollars, has paid back untold dividends as a transportation workhorse and as an engine for economic development statewide.
  • By the early 2000's, the Marquette Interchange:
    • carried 300,000 vehicles per day (more than double the number for which it was designed)
    • provided access to 37% of the state's jobs and population in southeastern Wisconsin and another 24% in counties along Lake Michigan
    • carried seven million visitors annually to downtown festivals and attractions, and
    • provided key access to tourist destinations in northeastern Wisconsin, including Door County and Green Bay.

Tomah Interchange - Tomah

As they say in real estate, location is everything. In Tomah, Wisconsin, location is the key ingredient for successful businesses. The city of Tomah is located in western Wisconsin at the junction of I- 90 and I-94, or as the locals say "where the I divides."

A new interchange was constructed off I-94 at Industrial Avenue in the city of Tomah. The new junction provides direct access to Tomah's growing industrial park, home to Wal-Mart's 800,000 square foot regional food distribution center, Cardinal IG, Toro, Missouri Fabrication, Keens and Martin Trucking and others. Between 600-700 trucks daily use the new interchange at an estimated travel time savings of 10-15 minutes per vehicle. This translates to $21,600 per day in travel time savings and operating costs for the industries using the interchange.

More about Wisconsin's economic development.

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Questions about the content of this page:
Office of Public Affairs, opa.exec@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: February 28, 2012

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