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City picks design for I-94/Carmichael interchange

“Two Loops with Modified Frontage Roads” is the name of the design plan for the I-94/Carmichael Road interchange selected by the city of Hudson. It adds loop ramps to eliminate the need for left turns onto I-94, and requires relocating frontage roads farther away from the freeway. (Enhanced aerial photograph by SRF Consulting Group Inc.)

The city has chosen a plan. Now it has to figure out how to pay for its share of the improvements to the I-94/Carmichael Road interchange.

Hudson won’t have to come up with the money real soon, however. Construction isn’t anticipated until 2025 or ’26 – at the earliest.

The city’s share of the $25-$30 million project, as it stands now, would be 50 percent.

Mayor Alan Burchill already has begun pressing for a lower share, however.

In a rare joint meeting of the Hudson City Council and the city’s Plan Commission on Sept. 30, the bodies were presented with two options for adding capacity to the interchange.

Project Manager Jim Koenig of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation said either option was acceptable to the department, but its preference was the design named “Two Loops with Modified Frontage Roads.”

It was the design ultimately selected by the Plan Commission and the City Council, following a presentation by Josh Maus of SRF Consulting Group, the firm serving as the technical staff for the project.

The other option was a “Diverging Diamond Interchange,” in which north- and southbound lanes would “cross-over” at the interchange to eliminate the need for left turns onto I-94.

The diamond interchange would cost less ($20-$25 million), but wouldn’t accommodate as many vehicles or move traffic through the Carmichael Road corridor as quickly, Koenig and Maus said.

WisDOT is planning improvements to a six-mile stretch of I-94 from the state line to east of U.S. Hwy. 12 (Exit 4). The upgrade to the Carmichael Road interchange is part of that overall project.

The reason for the planning is the anticipated 40- to 80-percent increase in traffic volumes on I-94, Carmichael Road and U.S. Hwy. 12 by 2035.

“This additional traffic will generate traffic operational issues at the I-94/Carmichael Road interchange area. Significant system improvements are needed to produce efficient traffic flow on the regional and local system,” said the PowerPoint report presented by Maus.

It forecast 89,600 vehicles a day on I-94 at Carmichael Road by 2025. In 2012, the average daily count was 65,400. It is projected to grow to 116,500 vehicles a day by 2035.

The average daily traffic count on Carmichael Road just south of the freeway was 36,000 in 2012. It is anticipated to increase to 43,300 by 2025 and to 50,400 by 2035.

Both the Plan Commission and City Council were quick to agree that the Two Loops design was the best for the city.

Maus said it would allow all the intersections along the interchange to operate at adequate or better levels through 2035.

The Crest View Drive intersection would operate at a below-average level of service by 2035 if the Diverging Diamond Interchange was built, the consultant said.

That option also would require closing the intersection of Coulee and Carmichael roads, and building a new street behind the Target and Family Fresh Market stores.

The ramifications of the Two Loops design are that Stageline Road on the south side of I-94 and Frontage Road on the north will have to be relocated farther away from the freeway. Both roads will be routed to new intersections on Carmichael Road.

Maus noted that the access to Hudson Hospital and Clinics also will be move one block farther south.

The plan will require 25 to 30 acres of right of way, and widening of the bridge over I-94.

Some of that right of way is on the site of a proposed Walmart Supercenter at the northeast corner of the interchange. One of the owners of the property was heard protesting the decision to a Plan Commission member at the conclusion of the meeting.

Hudson Mayor Alan Burchill questioned why the city is expected to pay half the cost of the interchange improvements when the state paid the entire cost of the new Exit 10 interchange at Roberts, and will pay 100 percent of the cost of the improvements to Exit 4.

Koenig said state policy requires municipalities to pay half the cost of interchanges when they connect state and federal highways to local roads.

Exit 10 connects I-94 to State Hwy. 65, and Exit 4 connects the freeway to U.S. Hwy. 12, Koenig noted.

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.

(715) 426-1066
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