Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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WIS 164 (County J) - Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Would reducing the speed limit to 45 mph affect the amount of traffic that would use the corridor? Could it eliminate the need for future expansion?

Most traffic using WIS 164 is local (only about 1,000 trips per day travel through the study corridor). As a result, the ability to divert this local traffic to other routes is negligible. The traffic study indicates that between 10 and 33 percent of the traffic on WIS 164 may move to other routes if the posted speed limit corridor-wide were reduced to 45 mph. Reducing the posted speed limit within the corridor can delay, but cannot eliminate, the ultimate need to expand WIS 164.

Adding capacity to the WIS 164 corridor would only benefit trucks and other through traffic, not local traffic.

Adding travel lanes or constructing spot improvements to WIS 164 (like passing lanes or paved shoulders), will benefit both local and through traffic. Comments from the public cite the difficulty in turning left from WIS 164 against oncoming traffic Heavy volumes also make it difficult to access WIS 164 from side roads and driveways.

The addition of passing and/or through lanes will orient higher-speed through traffic away from left- or right-turning vehicles. The addition of a median will afford vehicles attempting to join WIS 164 the opportunity to cross one direction of traffic, wait for a gap in the other direction, and join the highway much more safely.

Will reconstructing I-94 to Capitol Drive and Capitol Drive to County VV segments by 2004 accelerate the need for reconstructing the segments north of County VV?

No. Assuming that improvements to the south end of the corridor will affect traffic volumes at the north end ignores differences in traffic patterns and volumes. Only 1,000 vehicles per day travel through the entire corridor. Major traffic volume changes along WIS 164 are primarily due to traffic joining or leaving the highway at several major intersections along the route. These patterns are driven by access needs, NOT by roadway configuration.

Why was the segment of County J between Capitol Drive and I-94 added to this study?

Comments at earlier project meetings included suggestions to look at alternative routings for WIS 164 south of Capitol Drive. It became clear that a comprehensive comparison of alternatives required looking at I-94 as a common southern boundary for the study area. Waukesha County had identified the need for County J between I-94 and Capitol Drive to be expanded in the near future.

Why can’t WisDOT improve the critical intersections along WIS 164 and allow the highway to remain a two-lane road?

Federal guidelines determine when highways should be expanded. WisDOT strongly believes that the long-term travel efficiency and user safety along WIS 164 will be compromised if the highway is not expanded when traffic volumes exceed 13,000 vehicles per day.

WisDOT views intersection improvements and minor capacity improvements as means to address safety and travel efficiency as traffic builds toward the 13,000 threshold, but not as long-term solutions.

Why are there discrepancies between the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC)’s traffic projections and WisDOT’s?

First, SEWRPC’s model uses average weekday traffic (AWT) volumes; WisDOT uses average daily traffic (ADT) volumes. The differences can be significant; often in suburban areas, AWT is higher than ADT.

Second, SEWRPC’s future year for projections is 2020; WisDOT’s is 2025.

Third, SEWRPC modeled demand based on several scenarios, including 2- or 4-lane WIS 164/County J configurations, with and without a Power Corridor alternative, and posted speeds along WIS 164/County J at current limits or reduced to 45 mph corridor-wide.

When equated to ADT and 2025, SEWRPC 2-lane, existing speed limit projections compare very favorably with WisDOT 2025 projections.

Regardless of which are used, trends indicated by SEWRPC’s study of off-alignment alternatives are valid.

To repeat for emphasis: no segment of WIS 164/County J will be expanded to four lanes until or if traffic volumes exceed 13,000 Average Daily traffic (ADT).

Why can’t WisDOT and local governments improve several of the north-south corridors into better 2-lane roads? Wouldn’t this redistribute traffic throughout the network and preclude the need for any 4-lane roads in the area?

A continuous, tightly-spaced grid of parallel 2-lane roads would provide significant additional carrying capacity, but such roads don’t exist.

This type of network works where traffic generators (residential, commercial, industrial and recreational) are uniformly dispersed throughout the region, like street systems in densely populated and developed urban areas. This is not the case in north central Waukesha County and south central Washington County.

The study team has determined that about 10 percent of the WIS 164/County J traffic is "through" in nature; in other words, traffic that traverses most or all of the corridor from a starting point to its destination. Providing another 2- or 4-lane route would offer some opportunity for through-traffic diversion. But, for the 90 percent of traffic using WIS 164/County J for "local" trips, improving County V, County Y, Hillside Road or WIS 83 would offer little benefit or opportunity to avoid WIS 164/County J.

Cars entering and exiting from abutting subdivisions, condominium complexes or other homes must use WIS 164/County J to go to work (or to shop or eat). Businesses in the many business parks along the route would not divert to WIS 83 (for example) as an option.

"If you build it they will come." Why wouldn’t constraining WIS 164/County J to two lanes, with safety improvements at needed locations and additional traffic signals, divert enough traffic to remove the long-term need to expand the roadway?

The local traffic is already there, generated over the years by rapid development. WIS 164/County J traffic has grown between 5.7 and 7.4 percent per year between 1982/83 and 1997/98. SEWRPC has found that travel has increased in Southeastern Wisconsin at about 2 percent per year. As long as development increases the number of origins (homes) and/or destinations (businesses, restaurants, gas stations, etc.) in the area, WIS 164/County J will be an attractive route.

SEWRPC’s model suggests that lowering the speed limit will divert between 5 and 20 percent of the traffic that would use a 55 mph WIS 164/County J. This diversion would postpone, but not eliminate, long-term need for expansion.

If the speed limit can be reduced to 45 mph during US 45 construction, why not leave it posted this way long-term?

The decision to post WIS 164/County J at a uniform 45 mph speed limit during US 45 construction in 2000 was made solely to discourage US 45 traffic from using WIS 164/County J as a construction detour. This temporary change does NOT reflect substandard or unsafe conditions along the route.

Will side streets and driveways will be closed when the highway is improved?

WisDOT will consolidate access wherever possible, while retaining all fronting parcels’ access to a public street. Consolidating access may include the removal of multiple driveways into single parcels, and/or minor relocation of driveways or side streets, but WisDOT may not land lock parcels.

How will people get to their homes or to businesses if a median separates the northbound and southbound lanes?

A major part of any access management effort along highly used arterials is to provide reasonable left-turning (median break) access, via regular spacing of these breaks. Wherever an existing driveway will be retained, but no median break will be provided, some indirection of travel and "u-turning" at the next available median break will be required.

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Last modified: July 30, 2013

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