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Odds of re-opening I-94 off-ramp are slim

A Wisconsin Department of Transportation official dashed the Hudson City Council's hopes of re-opening an I-94 off-ramp leading to Dominion Drive when he appeared before the council Monday night.

But Thomas Beekman of WisDOT's Northwest Region office at Eau Claire did raise the possibility of state and federal funding for a new freeway overpass that might reduce congestion at the busy Carmichael Road and Crest View Drive intersection.

Alderman Alan Burchill has suggested re-opening of the former Exit 2 off-ramp since he joined the council nearly a year ago.

Beekman attended Monday's meeting to tell council members what it would take to make that happen.

He tried to lower the council's expectations from the start, telling members that a request for a new interstate highway connection is the biggest request that a municipality can make of the state and federal highway departments.

The stretch of freeway between Roberts and the St. Croix River also is the second-most traveled highway in Wisconsin, surpassed only by I-94 between Milwaukee and the Illinois border.

Beekman added that the federal and state highway departments would like to eliminate single-lane slip ramps like the one proposed by the council. He said it would be highly unlikely that a new slip ramp -- which highway officials sometimes refer to as "suicide ramps" -- would be approved.

Furthermore, the application for a new off-ramp might draw attention to the existing on-ramp from Coulee Road and lead to calls for its removal.

Asked whether the city stood a 10 percent chance of getting approval for a new off-ramp, Beekman said the odds weren't that high.

The application process would be time-consuming and costly for the city, as well, he said.

When asked what the city could do to relieve congestion at Carmichael and Crest View, Beekman suggested construction of a third overpass linking the north and south sides of the city. He indicated that Industrial Street or O'Keefe Road might be a good place to put the bridge.

He also offered WisDOT planning tools to help the city deal with its traffic tools.

He speculated that the state and federal transportation departments would look favorably on sharing the cost of building a new overpass.

Hudson Public Works Department Lead Man Tom Zeuli asked Beekman about adjusting the timing at the top of the freeway off-ramp traffic lights at Carmichael Road so that the lights on Carmichael don't turn red when the first car arrives at the top of a ramp.

He said the timing of the lights is causing backups on Carmichael Road.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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