US 8 Corridor Preservation Study (WIS 35-US 53) - Polk and Barron Counties

Location

US 8, 200th St., WIS 35 to US 53, Deer Lake-Poskin in Polk and Barron counties.

Overview

This study, a 40-mile segment of 4-lane roadway between St. Croix Falls and US 53, was initiated by legislative mandate to determine how to best meet the long-term transportation needs of this corridor.

When corridor study limits are this large, a tiered environmental process is preferred. The tiered process is used to eliminate repetitive discussions of the same issue and to focus on the actual issues at each level of environmental review. It is a means of accomplishing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements in as efficient a manner as possible.

The benefit of this corridor preservation study is the communities and land owners can plan and develop in conjunction with the future highway. The future right of way will be officially mapped keeping the selected alternative viable in the future.

Tier I - study completed in fall 2007

Tier I is located between WIS 35 North (Polk County) to US 53 (Barron County). The project section passes through the communities of Range, Turtle Lake, Almena, Poskin, and Barron.

The need for improvements on US 8 has been determined based on:

  • Capacity deficiencies 
    • Capacity refers to the number of vehicles that can safely travel on a segment of roadway under varying weather conditions. According to traffic projections,  volumes on US 8 will increase over 60% by the year 2030. Increased traffic will result in congestion along the corridor and substantial delays for traffic on side roads trying to access US 8.
  • Safety concerns
    • US 8 has experienced higher than average crash rates in the urban areas of Turtle Lake and Barron. Increased traffic volumes result in longer traffic streams that make it difficult for vehicles to pass or enter the highway from side roads.
  • Roadway deficiencies
    • US 8 follows a rolling terrain with some sharp curves and several steep hills in rural areas. The steep hills limit visibility at intersections for both US 8 drivers and drivers at side roads. Many roads intersect US 8 midway between the crest and the bottom of the hill.

Environmental Impact Study (EIS)

Tier I completed an EIS that narrowed the corridor alternatives to a single preferred alternative in 2007. An EIS pulls together community and agency interests and recommends a future course of action. The study focused on the broad issues such as general location, facility type, mode choice, area-wide air quality and land use implications of the major alternative.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) on Oct. 5, 2007.

The FEIS has been published and hard copies are available for viewing at the Northwest Region Transportation office.

Record of Decision (ROD)

The ROD identifies the mitigation measures that will be taken and is the final environmental approval that is needed before an action analyzed in the EIS may proceed to final design and construction. The ROD was completed in fall 2007.

Tier II - studies not currently scheduled

Each of the Tier II studies (see segments below) are a more detailed analysis of segments of the Tier I Corridor Study that address site-specific details of project impacts, costs and mitigation measures. Tier II studies take approximately two years to complete. 

  • Deer Lake - 200th Street to 120th Street
  • Range- 120th Street to 15th Street
  • Turtle Lake/Almena - 15th Street to Hay River
  • Poskin/Barron - Hay River to US 53

Tier II studies will complete an Environmental Assessment (EA) of a more detailed design within that preferred corridor that will determine the type and location of the access to the proposed alignment of US Highway 8. Enough detail of a preferred design is completed to enable the official mapping of the future right of way.

Turtle Lake/Almena Segment

The Turtle Lake/Almena Segment stretches from 15th St. to Hay River (east of Almena), in Polk and Barron counties. It is a combination of the Tier I segment 5 and a portion of segment 6.

The Tier I study did not select a preferred alignment for the western portion of this segment between 15th St. and 4th St. The Tier II study will build upon the evaluation and selection of a preferred alignment for this area as well as completing further evaluation on that preferred alignment to determine the type of facility, access location and type, and official mapping of the future right of way.

Poskin/Barron Segment

The Poskin/Barron Segment extends from Hay River (west of Poskin) to US 53, in Barron County. This segment is a combination of a portion of Tier I segment 6 and all of segment 7.

The Tier I study determined that a bypass of both communities, Poskin and Barron, was the preferred alignment for a four lane highway. A proposal also stated that the Barron bypass be constructed as a freeway with interchange access only while the Poskin realignment was not specified as a freeway or an expressway.

Expressways and freeways are both multi-lane divided roadways. The difference lies in how vehicles gain access to these roadways. An expressway has at-grade intersections at major roadways. An intersection is where two roads meet at-grade, while an interchange has on and off ramps.

Tier III - final design not yet scheduled

Tier III is the final design and construction. In order to advance to this tier, the legislature needs to approve funding.

Contacts

Deer Lake, Range and Poskin/Barron segments

Marc Bowker, Planning Engineer
(715) 635-4975
marc.bowker@dot.wi.gov 

Turtle Lake/Almena segment

James Koenig, Planning Supervisor
(715) 838-8391
james.koenig@dot.wi.gov

Tier 1, Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

Dena Ryan, Project Manager
(715) 395-3030
dena.ryan@dot.wi.gov

Diana Maas, WisDOT Northwest Region Communications Manager
Northwest Region, Spooner Office
W7102 Green Valley Rd.
Spooner, WI 54801
(715) 635-4968
diana.maas@dot.wi.gov

Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)
Northwest Region, Superior Office
1701 N. 4th St.
Superior, WI 54880
(715) 392-7925
WI Telecommunications Relay System (TTY): 711
Email: nwr.dtsd@dot.wi.gov