According to the latest version of the Department of Transportation's road construction schedule, more than half of the 45-mile stretch of Interstate between Beloit and Madison will be torn up at times as 10 major projects are set to roll out.The usual spinners will deal in the usual spin about a little inconvenience now for a faster trip to the tourist traps in the future. Except that won't happen.
That work, according to plans the DOT showed The Gazette, will include overpass replacements between Janesville and Madison and a 10-mile expansion of the Interstate's northbound lanes starting north of Edgerton.
Thus would begin the long-awaited—or some might say, long-deferred—expansion of I-90/39. The massive $1 billion project aims to widen I-90/39 from four lanes to six from the state line north to Madison—and beef it up to eight lanes through Janesville.
The Beloit-Janesville lane expansion is just one lane project that will cause temporary traffic diversions, multiple temporary closures and an untold number of orange construction barrels along the Interstate—but it's a portion of heavy construction that will run right up the gut of Janesville's east side, where traffic bottlenecks under normal conditions rank among the heaviest on I-90/39's Wisconsin corridor.It doesn't matter, after the work is done, whether there are four lanes each way through Janesville, or eight, or ten. Traffic will expand to fill the available lanes. If that's not enough aggravation for one day, note the subtle intrusion of the sunk cost fallacy.
The 12-mile stretch of road's two-year tear up offers one snapshot of traffic disruption linked to a project that could last at least five more years on a highway that is one of the main funnels into Wisconsin for interstate commerce and tourism traffic.
Walker said last fall that the I-90/39 expansion is one project he doesn't want to see derailed as the state works on a new budget.
State Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, in an interview last week said she was encouraged by the fact that projects on the I-90/39 expansion appear to be on track.The upgraded overpasses give the highway department the option of widening the interstates, should they choose to exercise it. But exercising the option, and causing more traffic congestion now in the hopes of mitigating it later? Doubtful.
Loudenbeck is a member of the legislative Joint Finance Committee, a group that in the past has led shaping of the legislative version of the state budget, which is ultimately submitted to the governor.
That fact—and the fact the DOT already has carried out tens of millions of dollars in sideline work linked to the project, including multiple overpasses rebuilt and widened to support expanded lanes on I-90/39—have made Loudenbeck more optimistic that I-90/39 project could continue to roll out as planned.