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The Regional Planning Commission is an advisory agency, which means implementing the VISION 2050 recommendations for land use and transportation depends on the actions of local, county, areawide, State, and Federal government agencies. Some aspects also depend on cooperation from many private interests, such as businesses, developers, builders, and conservation groups. If you are a concerned resident interested in seeing VISION 2050 recommendations implemented, we encourage you to get involved by contacting your local elected officials and letting them know you support the plan.



The first step in implementing VISION 2050 was the adoption of the plan by the Regional Planning Commission, which occurred on July 28, 2016. The next step involves endorsement by the agencies and levels of government that would be responsible for implementing the plan’s various recommendations.



The Commission’s adoption starts a formal process, where the Commission sends a certified copy of the adopted plan to all of the Region’s local legislative bodies and to all concerned local, areawide, State, and Federal agencies. The Commission’s request of these bodies is simple: endorse VISION 2050 as a useful guide to the sound development of the Region and integrate its findings and recommendations into their planning, regulatory, and other activities related to land use and transportation.


Depending on the agency and level of government, this endorsement and integration may be done in different ways. The Commission staff is available and willing to work with any agency or local government as they determine how to proceed.


As an advisory and regional plan, VISION 2050 should be viewed as a framework for more detailed county and local planning. It is also subject to adjustment as statewide plans are prepared, national policies and programs are created or changed, and other relevant planning efforts are conducted. During this refinement process, coordination among the various involved entities is critical.


The Commission’s request during this stage is also simple: work with Commission staff as plans are prepared that refine VISION 2050, and transmit any relevant plans to the Commission so staff can consider their integration into the adopted regional plan.



The VISION 2050 land use component includes allocations of population and employment with associated land uses to urban and rural areas, and recommended density ranges by land use category. This provides an overall land use planning framework for the Region that needs to be refined through county and community comprehensive plans, which are effectively required for counties, cities, villages, and towns in Wisconsin by the State comprehensive planning law. Comprehensive plans may vary in format and detail, but generally do the following:

  • Identify the boundaries of urban service areas, which include public sanitary sewer service and typically public water supply service, local parks, schools, and shopping areas

  • Identify residential neighborhoods and other land uses and recommend overall densities for residential neighborhoods within the broader VISION 2050 land use categories (State comprehensive planning law requires local zoning and subdivision ordinances to be consistent with the community’s comprehensive plan)

  • Identify environmentally significant lands and, as appropriate, farmland preservation areas to be preserved consistent with VISION 2050 recommendations

  • Incorporate more detailed neighborhood planning



For the regional plan, the Commission staff cannot feasibly analyze everything that goes into precisely planning individual transit services. To refine and detail VISION 2050’s transit recommendations, each public transit operator is encouraged to work with the Commission to prepare transit development plans (TDPs). These short-range plans typically have a five-year horizon and provide the basis for day-to-day decision-making on initiating new transit services and modifying existing services. They also provide the basis for agencies to program transit projects in their budgets.


In addition to the TDPs, VISION 2050 recommends that Commission staff work with transit operators and human services organizations to periodically update plans to coordinate public transit and human services transportation for each county.



To refine and detail VISION 2050’s arterial recommendations, county and local public works agencies may undertake detailed implementation planning, such as working with the Commission to update county jurisdictional highway system plans or conducting preliminary engineering studies. These efforts can serve as a basis for amending VISION 2050. Additional future planning efforts that would detail the regional plan’s arterial recommendations include:

  • Asset management planning by State and local governments ensures that limited funding resources are used effectively by planning rehabilitation and reconstruction of roadway features consistent with their life cycle

  • A Regional Safety Implementation Plan, to be prepared by the Commission working with WisDOT and local governments, will identify and prioritize arterial intersections and corridors with the most severe crash rates and corrective measures to reduce the number and severity of crashes

  • A Commission study of transportation facilities located in low-lying areas susceptible to flooding will identify potential improvements and adjacent roadway facilities that could serve as alternative routes when flooding occurs

  • A Commission bicycle study will assess arterials that should be prioritized for bicycle accommodation, considering factors such as traffic volume, speed, and congestion



One TSM recommendation is for Commission staff to work with State and local governments to document traffic signals on the arterial network and develop recommendations (including prioritization) for improving and expanding coordinated signal systems. Related to that recommendation, coordinated traffic signal plans should be prepared along surface arterial routes with signals spaced every one-half mile or less, and agencies should coordinate efforts so that motorists do not experience unnecessary stops or delays due to changes in individual traffic signal jurisdiction authority.



While endorsing the plan and refining its recommendations are important steps, this last step is critical to achieving the plan’s many benefits. Implementation is complex and relies on the coordinated actions of many different entities. The key players involved, and the measures that can be used, are described in the Implementation section of the original plan summary. Tracking implementation of VISION 2050 recommendations, monitoring the forecasts that underlie VISION 2050, and evaluating the performance of the regional transportation system will also be an important aspect of the Commission’s work going forward.



Key Players: local, county, areawide, State, and Federal agencies


While comprehensive plans provide needed refinement of VISION 2050, implementation of VISION 2050 also relies on a series of land use measures:

  • Local-level regulatory measures, such as zoning, land division, and official mapping ordinances

  • State- and Federal-level regulatory measures, such as State-local floodplain and shoreland regulations and the Federal wetland regulatory program

  • Non-regulatory implementation measures (carried out by government agencies and non-governmental organizations), such as park and open space acquisition or purchase of conservation easements, purchase and transfer of development rights, municipal boundary agreements, capital improvement programming, and brownfield redevelopment


The actions and entities responsible for implementing the transportation component vary by plan element, with more detailed planning required prior to the programming of certain elements, particularly for public transit, TSM, and arterial streets and highways. For most recommendations, the Regional Planning Commission will play a supporting role in implementation.



Key Players: local and county governments, transit operators, WisDOT, and the Wisconsin State Legislature


The Region’s public transit operators are responsible for implementing the vast majority of the recommended transit improvement and expansion. However, the transportation funding analysis identified a significant funding gap for the recommended public transit system. As the equity analysis concluded, a disparate impact to people of color, low-income populations, and people with disabilities is likely unless additional funding is provided for transit. The ability for the Region to avoid such a disparate impact is dependent on the State Legislature and Governor. Specifically, the following actions are needed by the State:

  • Pass enabling legislation allowing local dedicated transit funding

  • Renew adequate annual State financial assistance for transit

  • Consider allowing creation of a regional transit authority (RTA) with the ability to collect dedicated funding, and build and operate the recommended transit system

In addition to the transit operators and State Legislature, other entities are important to implementation: 

  • Local and county governments would be responsible for implementing transit-first designs on streets and would work with transit operators to implement programs to improve access to suburban employment centers

  • WisDOT would be a primary entity responsible for implementing intercity transit improvements, enhancing and expanding park-ride facilities, implementing commuter rail, and promoting transit use


Key Players: local and county governments, WisDOT, WDNR, and private entities


The level and unit of government responsible for constructing and maintaining each surface arterial street or highway is also responsible for constructing and maintaining the bicycle or pedestrian facility along that arterial. Each implementing agency should evaluate each recommended bicycle accommodation in more detail as part of the engineering for a surface arterial project, and should evaluate the feasibility of an alternative route if the accommodation is found not to be feasible.


Off-street bicycle facilities should be constructed and maintained according to the jurisdiction identified under VISION 2050. The Commission will, by request, review and update the jurisdictional responsibility of particular off-street bicycle facilities.


Key Players: local and county governments, WisDOT, and private entities


Implementing the TSM recommendations will require the cooperation and coordination of multiple public and private entities. WisDOT is the primary agency responsible for implementing the recommended freeway traffic management strategies and is responsible (along with local and county governments) for implementing almost all surface arterial traffic management strategies. The main exception would be demand-responsive parking pricing, which would involve a coordinated effort in major activity centers by local and county governments and private entities.




Key Players: local and county governments, transit operators, WisDOT,
the Wisconsin State Legislature, and private entities


For TDM measures to be effective, they should be technically and politically feasible; integrated with public transit, bicycle and pedestrian, and arterial street and highway improvements; and combined into coherent packages so that a variety of measures are implemented. WisDOT is a primary entity responsible for almost all measures, except:

  • Local and county governments are responsible for facilitating transit, bicycle, and pedestrian movement in local land use plans and zoning and would also have a primary role in enhancing HOV preferential treatment and working with WisDOT to expand park-ride lots

  • Private entities and WisDOT would be responsible for implementing personal vehicle pricing, depending on the measure, with some measures requiring enabling legislation by the State Legislature




Key Players: local and county governments, WisDOT, and the Wisconsin State Legislature


Implementing each arterial street and highway recommendation—such as maintaining, improving, and expanding arterials, as recommended—is the responsibility of local governments, county governments, or WisDOT, depending on each arterial’s jurisdiction. VISION 2050 identifies future jurisdiction, and the Commission, at the request of a given county, will work with the jurisdictional highway planning committee for that county to reevaluate any planned jurisdictional transfers.


Each recommended arterial improvement, expansion, and preservation project would need to undergo preliminary engineering and environmental studies by the responsible State, county, or local government prior to implementation. The final decision as to whether and how to implement a planned project will be made by the responsible unit of government at the conclusion of preliminary engineering.


Key Players: local and county governments, WisDOT, the Wisconsin State Legislature, and private entities


WisDOT is a primary entity responsible for implementing all freight recommendations, with local and county governments also having a direct role in implementing most of the recommendations. Private entities (e.g., railroads, trucking companies) have a direct role in pursuing a new truck-rail intermodal facility, constructing the Muskego Yard Bypass, and addressing the potential need for truck drivers.


The Commission serves on the advisory committee that guided WisDOT’s State Freight Plan and a workgroup created by WisDOT to identify and work to preserve oversize/overweight (OSOW) corridors. These efforts may produce additional elements that would be appropriate to include in the regional freight transportation element.



If you are a concerned resident interested in seeing VISION 2050 recommendations implemented, we encourage you to get involved by contacting your local elected officials and letting them know you support the plan. If you want to learn more about VISION 2050, or are interested in inviting us to present to a group you are involved with, we welcome the opportunity.

Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

W239 N1812 Rockwood Drive

P.O. Box 1607

Waukesha, WI 53187-1607

Phone: 262.547.6721

Fax: 262.547.1103


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