Last week, representatives of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation held a public involvement meeting to discuss the I-39 interchange where it meets US 10 East and WI 66 West. This interchange, just west of Target, is the location of an extremely uncomfortable crossing of I-39 for people bicycling and walking. Unfortunately, there are currently no other nearby options for accessing the businesses east of I-39 along US 10.
About 100 people attended the public involvement meeting. There were at least 4 or 5 WI DOT representatives answering questions near about 10 large maps showing various interchange configuration options and other information. A presentation that lasted close to an hour gave an excellent overview of the design concepts being considered.
One key aspect of any interchange design concept is how the I-39 onramp and offramp traffic interacts with traffic traveling over I-39 on the bridge deck.
The scope of this project is somewhat broader than the interchange itself. Because traffic flow on US 10 and WI 66 will affect how any new interchange functions, the project scope also includes the intersection at Country Club Dr to the west, the intersection at Maple Bluff Rd/Old Hwy 18 to the east, and a short portion of US 10 – about a quarter mile – beyond this latter intersection.
Poky Pedalers will have particular interest in how people bicycling and walking will be accommodated along this east-west stretch. Specifics of any interchange design concept will have substantial impact on the comfort and safety of any bike/walk accommodations.
The WI DOT representatives showed a great deal of interest in creating good accommodations for people biking and walking to connect between the Country Club Dr intersection and the Maple Bluff Rd/Old Hwy 18 intersection. Although the overall project is plainly about moving motor vehicles most efficiently, I was left with the impression that considerations for people biking and walking are important on this project.
The project webpage on the WI DOT website has links to the presentation slides, maps of the various draft concepts, and a pretty good written description about the project and the draft concept maps. You can use the following links to access all this information:
- I-39/US 10 East/WI 66 West interchange presentation given at the public information meeting
- I-39/US 10 East/WI 66 West design concept maps displayed at the public information meeting
- I-39/US 10 East/WI 66 West handout from the public information meeting
- WI DOT webpage containing the above links (under Past Meetings, it is the one dated October 14, 2014)
- WI DOT webpage for the I-39 Stevens Point Corridor Study (discusses not only this interchange, but several others along I-39 in our area)
I won’t go through all the details of the design options, but I do want to point out two highlights.
First, in the set of design concept maps, the last map shows a few design concepts for bike/walk bridge options to connect Country Club Dr to Maple Bluff Rd/Old Hwy 18. There are three options presented: a path beside the east-west roadway on the north side, a path beside the east-west roadway on the south side, and a path and new bridge about a quarter-mile south of the interchange over I-39 that would connect Country Club Dr directly to Old Hwy 18 where that latter road bends.
Second, there were some options presented that involve the following combination of changes to US 10:
- constructing a new north-south road across US 10 in the vicinity of the Taco Bell and the Goodwill Store,
- removal of the current Maple Bluff Rd/Old Hwy 18 intersection, eliminating access to US 10 from each,
- eliminating driveways along US 10 in this stretch, and
- building frontage roads to provide access to the businesses in this stretch of US 10.
With this combination of features, it would become feasible to create a multi-use path or protected bike lane (with a physical barrier, such as a concrete curb, between bike traffic and motor vehicle traffic) along US 10. The current impediment to such bicycle accommodations along US 10 is the large number of driveways present. If an option that removes driveways along US 10 is selected, then this sort of comfortable place for Poky Pedalers to ride for access to US 10 businesses is a real possibility.
This area is without a doubt the most prominent gap in the bicycle network within our urban area. This interchange project is an outstanding opportunity to create biking and walking accommodations that fix this gap. Although construction won’t take place for another 5-6 years (according to the handout), we are nevertheless extremely fortunate that WI DOT is moving ahead with this project.
A public comment period on this project is now open through October 30. The final page of the handout contains a form for writing comments, or you may simply send an e-mail with the same information. Comments should be sent to the following:
WisDOT Project Manager, North Central Region
1681 Second Avenue South
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495
I strongly encourage Poky Pedalers to look through the presentation, map, and handout materials and then send your comments in about biking and walking accommodations you want to see implemented as part of this interchange project. The more feedback project staff receives about creating better biking and walking, the better the final bike/walk accommodations will be.
I recently e-mailed a list of my own bike/walk preferences for this project. You can read my comments here. If you concur with any portion of what I sent to project staff, feel free to reference my letter and copy portions of my comments in yours.
The October 30 deadline is only about a week away. So if you want to contribute your opinions about this project, then don’t delay too long. It would be awesome if project staff heard from lots of Poky Pedalers about our needs for safe, comfortable, and convenient bike and walk access at this interchange.
Send feedback on this post by e-mail: