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The VISION 2050 development process considered arterial street and highway capacity expansion only after solutions such as expanded public transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, more efficient land use, and other strategies were considered to address congestion. VISION 2050 recommends an arterial street and highway system designed to serve the expected increase in vehicle-miles of travel in the Region of 14 percent by the year 2050, with an 8 percent increase in arterial system lane-miles over the next 30 years. The year 2050 arterial system is designed to address forecast year 2050 congestion, resulting in slightly reduced overall traffic congestion, travel time delay, and average automobile trip times when compared to current levels. In addition, implementing the recommended arterial improvements would improve overall safety and maintain the condition of the pavement and bridges along the planned arterial system.

Note: VISION 2050 is currently being updated. To learn more, visit the 2024 Review & Update page.


Keep the Region’s arterial street and highway system in a state of good repair


Maintain the Region’s arterial streets and highways—including pavement, bridges, and all other infrastructure in the roadway right-of-way—in a state of good repair to provide for safe and efficient travel. As they carry a higher level of people and goods each day, preserving the condition of arterial streets and highways is important to achieving a high standard of living for the Region’s residents and for giving the Region a competitive edge in terms of retaining and attracting businesses. This is done through routine maintenance, periodic rehabilitation, and reconstruction of roadways, bridges, and other highway infrastructure. 


Sound asset management practices are necessary to effectively utilize limited funding resources. WisDOT has prepared an asset management plan for the pavement and bridges of roadways under the State's jurisdiction and local governments should also develop and implement asset management plans for the arterial and nonarterial roadways under their jurisdiction.

Incorporate “complete streets” concepts for arterial streets and highways


Complete streets is a roadway design concept related to providing for the safe and convenient travel of all roadway users (of all ages and abilities) traveling by various modes (walking, biking, transit, or automobile) within a road’s right-of-way. Complete streets concepts should be considered as part of the construction and reconstruction of streets, and bike lanes or widened travel shoulders should be added during restriping where sufficient street width already exists. Curbside management practices should also be considered in urban areas to utilize the curbside space to better accommodate all users. And local governments should develop complete
streets plans at the neighborhood or corridor level.

Expand arterial capacity to address residual congestion


Widen approximately 233 route-miles to provide additional through traffic lanes, representing about 6 percent of the total arterial street and highway system mileage in VISION 2050, including 68 miles of existing freeways. These recommended widenings are shown as blue lines on the map. In addition, construct 65 miles of new arterial facilities, representing about 2 percent of the total arterial system mileage, which are shown as red lines on the map. About 22 percent of the route-miles planned for expansion are part of a committed project—currently underway or recommended as part of a completed or nearly completed preliminary engineering study. These highway improvements are recommended to address the congestion that may not be alleviated by the land use, TSM, TDM, bicycle and pedestrian, and public transit measures included in VISION 2050.


Each arterial street and highway project will undergo preliminary engineering by the project sponsor prior to construction. Preliminary engineering will consider alternatives, including options with and without additional lanes, and VISION 2050 will be amended if necessary to reflect the conclusion of the preliminary engineering process.

Avoid, minimize, or mitigate environmental impacts of arterial capacity expansion


Arterial street and highway capacity expansion has been developed through the VISION 2050 planning process to avoid, if at all possible, impacts to environmentally sensitive resources. However, in instances where impacts to these areas are unavoidable, these impacts should be minimized or mitigated to preserve the Region’s natural resource areas.


Address safety needs on the arterial street and highway network


Minimize traffic crashes, particularly crashes involving fatalities and serious injuries, on the arterial street and highway system. Also minimize crashes due to reckless driving, minimize bicycle and pedestrian-related crashes, reduce conflicts between automobiles and public transit vehicles, and reduce vehicle traffic conflicts. Ways to reduce conflicts include freeway modernization, mitigating freeway congestion to reduce rear-end crashes, implementing alternative intersection types, and managing access along arterials. VISION 2050 also recommends that the Commission, working with WisDOT and local governments, develop a Regional Safety Implementation Plan (RSIP). The RSIP would identify and prioritize arterial intersections and corridors with severe crash rates, and identify measures to reduce the number and severity of crashes.

Address security needs related to the arterial street and highway system


State and local governments in the Region should continue to work with the Federal government and the Commission to address the security needs related to the arterial street and highway system. Related security efforts, in which the Commission plays a supporting role, involve preventing and responding to attacks affecting the arterial system. They include conducting periodic vulnerability assessments and monitoring and strengthening vulnerable infrastructure; developing and maintaining county and local government all hazards mitigation plans; maintaining a resilient regional arterial network that provides alternative routes during disruptions; increasing transportation system resiliency to flooding; and updating and implementing evacuation route policies.

Monitor growth and development of automated vehicles

In recent years, automated features have been introduced to the mainstream automobile market. Although several regulatory and technological hurdles remain before fully autonomous vehicles become common place, automated vehicle technology continues to advance. VISION 2050 recommends that Commission staff work with Federal, State, and local governments to monitor the growth and development of automated vehicles and incorporate necessary changes to VISION 2050 as part of future updates to the plan.












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