The bumper-to-bumper I-43 commuter traffic between Silver Spring Drive and Good Hope Road is only going to get more congested as the North Shore continues to grow.
The high traffic volume on that stretch of the interstate already causes concerns for Department of Transportation officials, and they expect that congested commuter traffic to spread north to Brown Deer Road over the next 30 years unless improvements are made.
At a public meeting at Nicolet High School Wednesday night, the DOT presented a number of possibilities to improve the I-43 corridor between Bender Road and Highway 60 in Grafton. The DOT is conducting environmental testing right now, and held the public information meeting to get resident feedback before conducting additional traffic studies and engineering work.
The roadway is more than 50 years old, and the Department of Transportation expects to replace the existing pavement, while also using this reconstruction as a period to potentially expand roadways, add overpasses, simplify safety concerns like the clover-leaf ramps at Brown Deer Road, and investigate the need for on-ramps and exit ramps at Highland Road, near Concordia University.
But the maps that received the most attention were those depicting I-43's expansion from a four-lane highway to a six-lane highway between Bender Road and Green Tree Road.
If the DOT was to add an additional lane to each side of the interstate, seven homeowners and a commercial property would potentially have to relocate. Here are some of the biggest changes that could come with an expansion:
- Widening the highway. If the expansion happened east of the existing roadway, it would affect six houses and cut into the parking lots of three businesses east of Port Washington Road. If the roadway expanded west, 10 houses would be affected and it would encroach on the North Shore Water Commission facilities and the Nicolet High School parking lot and football field.
- Raising or lowering the interstate to accomodate the railroad crossing north of Bender Road. The roadway could pass under the railroad crossing and elevate as it proceeds north, providing access to Nicolet High School from Port Washington Road under the interstate. If I-43 is lowered underneat the railroad and Green Tree Road, Nicolet High School would be accessed above the interstate.
- Transforming the Brown Deer Road interchange and modifying the Good Hope Road exit. The DOT outlined the possibility of making the Brown Deer interchange a diamond or horseshoe interchange, and modifying the Good Hope Road exit to ease traffic congestion with longer ramps or new interchange.
After further engineering work is done, the DOT will hold a third public information meeting in August or September. A recommended alternative will be presented in a public hearing in 2014.
This is the DOT's second public hearing on the corridor study. For those that missed the Wednesday night meeting, there will be another meeting tonight, Thursday night, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Christ Church, 13460 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon.
More information about the project is available on the DOT's I-43 Corridor Study webpage.