State of Wisconsin
Department of Transportation
DMV Online Services
All Online Services
Customer how-to video guides
Online Driver license/ID Services
Online Vehicle Services
Driver License/ID card
How to apply
School bus information
Forms and publications
Tips and tools
Agent training videos
Dealer training videos
Buy or sell a vehicle
Know your rights
File a dealer complaint
Ag vehicles overview
Local government information
No fee Ag permits
Ag vehicle safety
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
Engineers and consultants
Structure and road resources
Contract payments (HCCI)
Civil rights and compliance
Who buys what
Federal aid project delivery
Construction and engineering
Aviation training and events
Real Estate / Right of way use
Hwy projects and your property
Land and property for sale
Freight / Economic Dev
Freight Advisory Committee
In This Together
Maps and GIS
511 - Travel Information
Travel by road
Commemorative hwys and bridges
Park and rides
Travel by rail
Amtrak passenger rail service
Milwaukee Intermodal Station
Milwaukee Airport Rail Station
Travel by bicycle
Travel as a pedestrian
Travel by water
Ferries operating in Wisconsin
Cruise operators in Wisconsin
Travel by air
Travel by public transit
Motor carrier enforcement
Citation deposits and fines
Motorcycle and moped
School bus equipment
School bus inspection
Human service vehicle
Highway safety improvement program
Traffic safety grants
Projects and Studies
Highway projects and studies
Projects and studies by mode
Connected and Automated Vehicles
Data and planning resources
Vehicle miles of travel
Safety and crash data
Life of a highway project
Six Year Highway Program
Major Highway Subprogram
Highway Rehab Subprogram
Who we are
Commissions and councils
Transportation Region Offices
Performance and Budget
Careers with WisDOT
Equal employment opportunity
Law of the month
Photo and graphic gallery
Research and Library
Open records request
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
1634 - French explorer Jean Nicolet arrives at what is now Green Bay.
1672 - Marquette and Jolliet expedition through Wisconsin by canoe.
1783 - Territory comprising what is now Wisconsin comes under United States control. Transportation is primarily by trails and waterways.
1836 - Wisconsin becomes a territory. Territorial roads are authorized. The first military road completed from Ft. Howard to Fort Crawford.
1847 - Milwaukee to Watertown plank road constructed. Stage coach mail service begins.
1848 - Wisconsin becomes the 30th US state. State roads are authorized to accommodate travel by horse and horse-drawn vehicles.
1850 - First railroad in Wisconsin from Milwaukee to Wauwatosa.
1871 - First automobile developed in Wisconsin by Dr. J.W. Carhart.
1880 - The bicycle becomes a viable means of transportation.
1905 - Auto license law passed.
1908 - Constitution amended to allow state funding of construction and improvement of public highways.
1909 - First aircraft flight in Wisconsin.
1911 - State highway commission is established when the State Aid law is enacted by the legislature.
1913 - Legislature gives the state highway commission authority to create seven divisions in locations around the state.
1916 - Federal Aid Road Act provides funding for the development of paved roads.
1917 - The 5000 mile state trunk highway system is established. First Wisconsin roadmap is produced.
1918 - Wisconsin develops uniform highway classification and numbering system which is later adopted nationally.
1921 - Federal Highway Act.
1925 - State highway commission requires prequalification of contractors.
1926 - US highway system is established.
1927 - State Highway Commission Construction Department established.
1930's - During the depression many roads are built as part of new deal public works projects.
1931 - State highway commission assumes full responsibility and expense for state trunk highway maintenance.
1933 - State highway commission acquires and continues operation of the Merrimac free ferry.
1937 - State highway commission places a bituminous weatherproof surface on State Trunk Highway system.
1939 - Motor Vehicle Department created.
1941-1945 - World War II impacts transportation through rationing of fuel and parts.
1945 - Wisconsin state highway fund created and segregated from the general fund.
1946 - Wisconsin aeronautics commission created.
1947 - State trunk highway system enlarged to 12,000 miles.
1953 - State Patrol receives first state-purchased cars for troopers.
1956 - The Interstate Highway Act was enacted under President Eisenhower to create a quality network of highways throughout the nation to serve national defense during the cold war.
1956 - "Bare Pavement" winter maintenance policy adopted. State highway commission installs first computer.
1958 - First segment of Interstate highway in WI dedicated - 7.5 miles of I-94 between Goerke's Corners and CTH "SS" in Waukesha County.
1959 - Edge line pavement marking started.
1960 - First Interstate safety rest areas are constructed on I-94.
1965 - Legislature adopts new highway safety improvement law.
1967 - Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is created by merging the Divisions of Highways, Aeronautics and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
1968 - Highway Beautification Act. Bridge Inspection Program mandated by federal aid highway act.
1969 - Wisconsin rural Interstate system essentially completed.
1970 - Congress enacts the Environmental Protection Law.
1973 - The oil embargo and energy crisis lead to the enactment of the 55 mph rural speed limit.
1973 - Rustic Roads system created.
1976 - Policy of preserving existing roads, rather than building new, was initiated.
1978 - Congress deregulates airlines.
1980 - Six-Year Highway Improvement Program approved.
1981 - Final segment of Interstate Highway in WI completed on I-43.
1982 - Child restraint law covering under-four age group in effect.
1984 - 30 miles of I-90/94, from Madison to Portage, are reconstructed from four to six lanes in one year.
1987 - Mandatory seatbelt law enacted. Relocated Madison South Beltline opens.
1988 - I-43 is extended from Milwaukee to Beloit.
1992 - Construction Quality Management Program is implemented.
1995 – Comprehensive, multimodal transportation plan, Translinks 21, is adopted.
1996 - I-39 is extended into Wisconsin from the Illinois border to Wausau.
1996 - WisDOT establishes Internet presence on information superhighway.
1998 - Airport Development Program implemented.
2000 - US 53 4-lane expressway from Eau Claire to Superior completed. WI 29 4-lane expressway from Chippewa Falls to Green Bay completed.
2000 - Hoan Bridge span fails.
2000 - Graduated Driver License (GDL) system is implemented.
2001 - US 51 4-lane expressway up to US 8 completed.
2001 - Hoan Bridge reopened to traffic and fully repaired.
2002 - Wisconsin's deadliest motor-vehicle crash involved 51 cars on I-43 in Sheboygan County. The October 11, 2002 crash claimed the lives of 10 while 50 people were injured.
2003 - Wisconsin’s standard for drunk driving lowered from a 0.10 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) to 0.08 percent BAC; bill took effect on September 30.
2003 - Merrimac Ferry ColSac II is replaced with ColSac III
2003 - US 10 expanded, connecting the Fox Valley with central Wisconsin.
2003 - "Baby Luke" law takes effect. Prohibits motorists from driving if they have any detectable amount of a controlled substance in their system.
2004 - A new bridge opens at La Crosse carrying US 14/61/WIS 16 over the Mississippi River.
2004 - Reconstruction of the Marquette Interchange in Milwaukee begins and is completed in 2008.
2005 - The Milwaukee Airport Rail Station opens at Mitchell International Airport, becoming the first passenger rail-to-airport link in the Midwest.
2006 - Annual indexing of the state's gas tax repealed in 2005, with the last indexing adjustment made April 1, 2006.
2009 - Primary safety belt enforcement law takes effect in Wisconsin on July 1.
2010 - Law to ban texting while driving takes effect in Wisconsin on December 1.
2011 - 100th anniversary of an official Wisconsin transportation agency in recognition of state legislation enacted in 1911 that established a State Highway Commission.
2012 - Law to prohibit cell phone use by new drivers is implemented effective November 1.
2012 - The department’s MAPSS Performance Improvement Program is launched.
2013 - Pier on the Leo Frigo Bridge in Green Bay sags. The structure is repaired and reopened to traffic in January 2014.
Go to top