Marquette Interchange

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts that highlight stories from other cities and regions that have faced challenges comparable to that of the Syracuse region and the I-81 corridor.  To read other blog posts in the series, click here.

This project in downtown Milwaukee involved the complete reconstruction of the interchange of I-94, I-794, and I-43, the “Marquette Interchange.” The interchange was aging, and had an outdated design that did not function well for high traffic volumes merging and weaving at high speeds. In addition, the physical presence of the elevated interchange resulted in negative noise, aesthetic, and pedestrian circulation impacts on the surrounding neighborhood, exacerbated by past urban renewal activities that eliminated the urban fabric in the interchange area.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was conducted that focused on the involvement of surrounding neighborhoods, with the goal of developing a “community sensitive design.”  The project established neighborhood committees to consider design features within each area. Each of these groups had a representative on an advisory committee for the project, which also included representatives from local businesses and government agencies. The work of the community sensitive design committees occurred in a relatively short, six month time frame, after the major decisions about the interchange’s structure had been made by Wisconsin DOT (WDOT) and FHWA.

Among the primary goals of the neighborhood committees were to make the reconstructed interchange more visually appealing, less of a barrier, and more pedestrian–friendly at ground level. Visualization tools were helpful for exploring some of the design options with the task force. Final design and construction proceeded without significant delays starting in 2003, and the interchange was complete in 2008.

The project has just been recently completed, and is functioning well for traffic. However, it is premature to determine if design enhancements, such as narrower concrete piers and decorative features, will have the desired outcome of reducing the barrier effect and improving the pedestrian environment.

To read more about the rebuilding of Marquette Interchange and how it compares with The I-81 Challenge process, check out a full version of the Case Study Report.

Photo courtesy of Beige Alert via Flickr Creative Commons

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