Stadium Interchange, I-94 rebuild to cost $825 million to $1.2 billion

-by , Reporter – Milwaukee Business Journal

The state of Wisconsin is in the final stages of selecting a reconstruction plan for Interstate 94 around the Stadium Interchange near Miller Park, which could cost up to $1.15 billion if one segment of the highway is double-decked.

A new rendering of an option for a rebuilt Stadium Interchange. Image credit: WisDOT

The state released its draft plan for the 3.5-mile highway reconstruction, and will spend the next 60 days collecting public comments on the alternatives. All of the remaining options would expand I-94 to eight lanes. After reviewing comments on the plan, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will lock in a final proposal.

The DOT is eyeing two alternatives for I-94 on both sides of the interchange itself. Depending on which option is selected, the project will cost anywhere from $825 million to $1.15 billion.

Most debate has been over the segment west of the interchange where the freeway is to get additional lanes, but cannot be physically widened due to cemeteries north and south of the freeway. A two-level double-decker highway remains in consideration, as does rebuilding I-94 at ground level with 11-foot-wide lanes, rather than the usual 12 feet. The at-grade option, which is at least $170 million cheaper, would either eliminate the Hawley Road interchange or cut its number of ramps, removing an off-ramp from westbound I-94 and an on-ramp for eastbound drivers.

The double-decker option would have eight, 12-foot lanes. The two decks could be built all above ground for $295 million, or could be partial underground, costing $320 million to $345 million but reducing the visual impact.

Numerous changes are proposed to the Stadium Interchange. A major change is the addition of traffic lights for drivers on Highway 41 and Miller Park Way who are turning onto I-94.

There are two proposals for the segment east of the interchange, extending to 16th Street. One would shift the highway alignment 400 feet south, removing the downhill grade and curve on that segment for safety reasons. Also, off-ramps would be changed to connect directly to 27th Street, instead of connecting with other local streets and St. Paul Avenue.

That would create long bridges on either side of the interstate for on and off ramps. The Menomonee Valley Partners and Potawatomi Hotel and Casino have both raised concerns about this alternative because it would make access to the Menomonee Valley and the casino more difficult.

This alternative, priced at up to $810 million, is $50 million to $100 million more than the second option, which would widen but not realign I-94. That second option also would not realign the existing ramps around 27th Street.

-Reporter Sean Ryan covers commercial and residential real estate for the Milwaukee Business Journal and through the Real Estate Roundup blog on the website. He also covers construction, highways and public transit.