The US 41 corridor was identified in a 2005 federal transportation
bill for potential inclusion in the Interstate Highway System. The
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A
Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was signed into law in August 2005 and
identified the US 41 corridor as a potential future Interstate route.
The Interstate will total 175 miles in length. The 43 miles along
I-94 and I-894 are already signed as interstate highway. The remaining
132 miles from the Zoo interchange north to I-43 in Green Bay will be
converted from US highway to new Interstate highway.
Traffic volumes on US 41 currently range from 27,000 to 150,000
vehicles per day. More than 80 million truck tons of freight originate
in the eight counties along US 41, accounting for nearly 38 percent of
Wisconsin’s originating truck tonnage.
Designating the highway as an Interstate is expected to help create
economic growth from Milwaukee to Green Bay; ensure the highest level
of safety and mobility; create a corridor identity and bring broader
benefits to the state of Wisconsin.
Interstates connect major metropolitan areas, cities and
About 40 percent of Wisconsin’s overall
economic activity is located in the eight counties along the corridor
between Milwaukee and Green Bay.
The cities of Appleton, Oshkosh
and Fond du Lac are one of the only cluster of three cities (except
for cities in California and Texas) in the U.S. with populations
greater than 40,000 that are not within 25 miles of an Interstate
Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac are the only cities in
Wisconsin with a population base or more than 40,000 that are not
served by an Interstate.
Although the local traveling public
realizes that US 41 is currently a high quality freeway, those not
familiar with the area would not associate a US highway with the type
of facility that provides for the highest level of safety and mobility
of an Interstate.
What are the advantages of an Interstate versus
a US Highway?
There are multiple advantages, they include but are not limited to:
Interstates provide a corridor identify, which encourages growth.
For example, of 26 major distribution centers in Wisconsin, 73 percent
are located within five miles of an Interstate.
Designating US 41
as part of the Interstate system will help stimulate and accommodate
economic growth from Milwaukee to Green Bay.
The design standards
for the Interstate system ensure high levels of mobility and safety.
Interstate status will elevate US 41 from a regionally-known freeway
to a nationally recognized corridor. This will allow communities along
the route to be competitive when large corporations are looking for
market expansion locations.
There are a number of reasons WisDOT, American Association of State
Highway Transportation Officials. (AASHTO) and Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) conditionally approved I-41 as the route
I-41 follows the AASHTO guidelines of increasing route numbers
west to east, with its location between I-39 and I-43.
the route designation number anticipated and preferred by the general
I-41 allows for future Interstate loop or spur routes to be
designated off of I-41.
Will Interstate 41 and US 41 follow the same
Yes. Because I-41 and US 41 will be concurrent the entire route,
there should be no driver confusion about which “Route 41” to follow.
US 41 joins I-94 at the Russell Road interchange, approximately 1
mile south of the WI/IL state line, making it the logical starting
point for the conversion.
The current route of US 41 in Milwaukee
following I-94 from the Mitchell interchange, to the Marquette
interchange, to the Miller Park interchange, and then north along
Lisbon and Appleton Avenue will be relocated to be concurrent with
I-41 along I-894 and US 45.
Current US 41 from I-94 at the Miller
Park interchange to the interchange with US 45 will be re-numbered to
a state highway.
The end point of I-41 will be in Green Bay at
the I-43 interchange where US 41 will continue north to Michigan.
It is a logical starting point for the new Interstate. It will add
33 miles to the conversion, making the corridor 175 miles long. An
economic assessment found Wisconsin will benefit from having the new
interstate extended to Illinois.
How many signs will need to be revised or
Approximately 2,500 signs will be revised or replaced including
both the large green signs and the smaller guide signs on the side
roads directing traffic to the Interstate.
What is the cost of changing signs from US
Highway to an Interstate?
The installation of Interstate shields will cost approximately $12
million. This includes revising or replacing approximately 2,500 signs
including both the large green signs and the smaller guide signs on
the side roads directing traffic to the Interstate, revising existing
sign bridges, installing new sign bridges, and performing traffic
When is the conversion going to happen?
What is the schedule?
Planning for the Interstate conversion began in 2007, with a
long-term planning study currently underway. There are several items
that must be completed before US 41 can be converted to I-41,
A signed environmental document.
A signed WisDOT/Federal
Highway Administration (FHWA) agreement.
legislation to allow oversize/overweight trucks to continue to use the
It is anticipated that installation of Interstate shields will
occur in 2014 provided the items listed above are
Federally mandated maximum weight limits will apply to the
interstate system and vehicles that currently operate on US 41. It is
estimated that 10-20 percent of the trucks currently operating on US 41 are
hauling overweight or oversize loads by permit or allowed by state
statute. Our current US 41 roadway and our new projects along the
corridor are constructed to handle these loads. Truck traffic should
be allowed to continue to use the corridor and not be diverted off of
the Interstate onto state or county highways. To address this issue,
federal legislation is needed which will grandfather the existing
statutes and permitting process, so that those trucks that are
currently able to utilize the US 41 corridor will be able to continue
business as usual after the Interstate conversion.
The Ladybird Johnson Highway Beautification Act of 1965 was
announced as an America the Beautiful initiative with its control of
outdoor advertising along Interstate and primary highways. Provisions
of this Act will apply once US 41 is converted to an Interstate.
Interstate designation will change the status of most of the existing
legally permitted billboards to non-conforming which means that they
can remain, but will not be able to be improved or re-constructed. And
in general, new billboards will not be allowed along the Interstate
corridor. The Act does not address signs that are located on the
property of businesses they advertise.
Will there be construction projects related
to the Interstate designation?
An agreement between the Federal Highway Administration and WisDOT
will address any deficiencies along the corridor. For example, a
stretch of highway with substandard shoulders may be improved to bring
those shoulders to the required width. These changes are expected to
be included with normally programmed improvements for US 41 as part of
the standard WisDOT process to maintain safety and mobility for this