I-41 Project, Brown and Outagamie counties

NOTE: A maintenance and repair project is currently underway on I-41 between WIS 15 and County J in Outagamie County. This project is not a part of the I-41 Majors project. Work began in early April and continues through May. For construction information and progress, as well as real-time traffic conditions, please see the construction project webpage for the I-41 resurfacing currently underway​.

What to expect in 2022

WisDOT is moving forward with project design plans and activities. Survey work and geotechnical/soil investigations will be taking place at various locations along the corridor for the remainder of the year. This​ includes all service interchanges as well as some work along WIS 441 from I-41 south to County OO (Northland Avenue).

Please use extra caution as you travel through the corridor as heavy equipment will be present on the roadway shoulders.

Recent Project News:

Project Location

I-41, WIS 96 (W. Wisconsin Avenue) in the city of Appleton to County F (Scheuring Road) in the city of De Pere,
Outagamie and Brown counties

 

​Overview

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is exploring options to improve I-41 in the project limits to address numerous safety and operational issues. The Wisconsin State Budget signed in 2019 provided WisDOT enumeration for construction of this project. This project is considered a Major Highway Project - a complex and costly project which requires a capacity expansion of over five miles or creation of two and half miles of highway on a new location. Major Projects require extensive environmental review, public involvement and typically require approval by the Transportation Projects Commission, the State Legislature and the Governor. More information regarding Major Projects can be found on WisDOT's Major Highway Development webpage.

I-41 is a critical backbone route in Wisconsin’s Connections 2030 State Highway Plan and part of the National Highway System. Backbone routes are critical to travel patterns and support the state’s economy. I-41 is a major passenger and freight route connecting the Fox Cities to Fond du Lac and Milwaukee to the south and Green Bay to the north. The corridor provides access to major manufacturing areas, residences, an international airport, educational institutions and universities, regional shopping centers, entertainment districts, and hospitals.

Why is the project needed?

Today, the 23-mile segment of I-41 between WIS 96 in Outagamie County and County F in Brown County is currently 4 lanes (2 lanes in each direction) and experiences crashes at a rate greater than similar freeways in Wisconsin, is congested, and has multiple roadway design deficiencies. In addition, much of the I-41 pavement and several bridges are reaching the end of their useful lives and need replacing.

The purpose of the project is to provide a safe, reliable highway that meets interstate standards and addresses existing safety and operational deficiencies. In addition, there is a need to address the outdated Wrightstown Safety and Weight Enforcement Facility (SWEF) to allow it to operate safely and effectively with proposed improvements to I-41. Why is the project needed?

  • Safety: Portions of this segment of I-41 have a crash rate higher than the statewide average for similar roadways. Frequent crashes in the corridor create congestion and unexpected delays. These unexpected delays increase travel times through the corridor and decrease the travel time reliability of both I-41 and the local roadway system.
  • Congestion: This segment of I-41 is currently experiencing heavy congestion, especially during weekday a.m. and p.m. peak travel times. I-41 carries up to 714,000 vehicles each day through the project area. Since 2012, traffic on I-41 in the study area has increased by approximately 20 to 30 percent. During that same period traffic increased by approximately 10 percent nationwide on all roads (FHWA 2020). By 2045, the Average Annual Daily Traffic on I-41 is expected to increase between 15 and 20 percent, depending on location.​
  • Roadway Deficiencies: Much of the original pavement was built in the 1960s and although pavement maintenance continues, the pavement has reached the end of its useful life, and further rehabilitations are no longer cost effective. There are also locations with narrow shoulders, insufficient ramp designs, and closely spaced interchanges along I-41. These deficiencies reduce safety and contribute to operational problems throughout the study area.
  • Outdated Wrightstown Safety and Weight Enforcement Facility (SWEF): WisDOT will be replacing the Wrightstown SWEF in Outagamie County, which is accessible from northbound I-41, about 0.75 mile south of County U. The existing SWEF does not have modern technology to weigh and inspect commercial motor vehicle truck traffic. In addition to replacing the SWEF, the State Patrol may move its Northeast Region Headquarters (currently in Fond du Lac) to this site. This would include building a 300 to 400-foot communications tower. Relocating the State Patrol Northeast Region Headquarters from Fond du Lac to the Wrightstown SWEF site would make it more centrally located within the region. The current headquarters needs upgrading and replacing it with a new building co-located with the SWEF would save money.

Improvement Alternatives

In addition to the No Build Alternative, several improvement alternatives were developed and analyzed as part of the project. The proposed improvement alternatives assessed possible solutions to reduce congestion on I-41 and updating the roadway and bridges to current standards to address deficiencies.

WisDOT evaluated each alternative based on how it addressed the project’s need factors, potential environmental impacts, new right of way required, and estimated construction cost. WisDOT also considered input from the public, tribes, agencies, and local governments.

I-41 Mainline

I-41 as a 4-lane or 6-lane freeway.

Service Interchanges

A service interchange is an interchange between a freeway and a local road.

WisDOT studied the capacity, conditions and traffic operations at the eight existing and one planned service interchanges on I-41 between WIS 96 and County F. The following service interchange types were considered: diamond/tight diamond interchange (with traffic signals or roundabouts), diverging diamond interchange and a partial cloverleaf interchange (with traffic signals or roundabouts).

Existing Service Interchanges

  • WIS 15/County OO (W Northland Avenue)
  • WIS 47 (N Richmond Street)
  • County E (N Ballard Road)
  • County N (Freedom Road)
  • WIS 55 (Delanglade Street)
  • County J (Lawe Street)
  • County U (County Line Road)
  • County S (Freedom Road)
  • South Bridge Connector (planned new interchange)

System Interchanges

There is one system interchange, at WIS 441, in the corridor. A system interchange carries traffic from one freeway to another via a free-flow network of ramps.

The WIS 441 interchange has congestion​ and safety issues due to the high volume of weaving traffic and proximity to County E (Ballard Road). WisDOT considered replacing this interchange in the existing configuration or completely reconfiguring the interchange to eliminate the loop ramps.

Status Phase

An Environmental Assessment (EA) was completed in June 2021. Based on the findings of the EA and comments received, FHWA and WisDOT determined that the I-41 Project would not result in any significant impacts on the quality of the environment, thus, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) document​ was completed to conclude the EA process and document the decision.

Project Schedule

Public Involvement

WisDOT welcomes public comments and seeks to work in partnership with citizens and communities to develop a safe, efficient transportation system. Communication between citizens and WisDOT is essential at every point in the process. Please see the I-41 public involvement webpage for upcoming meetings and past meeting material.