State of Wisconsin
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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.