The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)
Southwest Region is initiating the study. WisDOT has hired the consulting firm Short Elliott
Hendrickson Inc. (SEH®) to assist them with their efforts. Local officials from Dane and Iowa
counties, property owners and other interested stakeholders are contributing to the study.
The study limits extend from US 18/151 (Dodgeville) to
County MV (Verona), a
distance of approximately 28 miles. The study is located in both Dane and Iowa
What is the US 18/151 Freeway Conversion all about?
The US 18/151 Freeway Conversion will result in a plan for the eventual removal of
direct access onto US 18/151 over a period of many years. Existing direct access points (such as
roads and driveways) will be removed. Access will be at highway interchanges, and there will be a
plan for new overpasses or underpasses, and new local road connections.
An analysis of environmental issues associated with freeway conversion is being done in accordance
with federal and state requirements. At the conclusion of the study, the lands that will need to be
acquired for freeway conversion will be officially mapped so that property owners and local
communities can plan accordingly. It is important to note that this study is not planning for any
additional capacity (travel lanes) for any of this portion of US 18/151. The plan is considering the
addition of auxiliary lanes between County G and the County MV exit on the west side of Verona.
What is the difference between an expressway and a freeway?
Expressways are multi-lane roadways with a median to separate traffic. The posted speed limit is
usually 55 to 65 mph, although it may be posted lower in/near urban areas. They have some
at-grade intersections with public roads and driveways, allowing vehicles to get directly on/off/across
the main highway. Expressways may also include interchanges and grade separations (side roads
that go under or over the main road but do not access it directly).
Freeways also have two or more lanes in each direction separated by a median and a 55 to
65 mph posted speed limit. Unlike expressways, freeways have no at-grade accesses of any kind. All
crossroads are separated by grade (they go over or under the freeway). They provide access on/off
the highway only at interchanges.
The US 18/151 corridor appears to be operating fairly well now, why are
As part of the US Highway System, US 18/151 is an important regional roadway connecting major
Midwest cities such as Dubuque, Iowa and Madison, Wisconsin. US 18/151 is identified as a
Backbone Route in WisDOT’s Connections 2030 Long-Range Transportation Plan. The plan places
high priority in protecting these highway investments that connect major economic/population
centers and carry long-distance statewide, and inter-state traffic.
As traffic increases over time, it will become increasingly difficult to turn on, off, and/or cross the
highway in a safe manner, and the overall potential for crashes will increase. A completed plan will
include ways to address problems at individual locations that fit into the big picture plan to convert
the entire corridor to a freeway. A completed freeway conversion plan will improve the ability of
local communities adjacent to this high-priority corridor to integrate future land use development
with the existing and proposed road system.
The physical construction of major improvements will not begin for many years, and the freeway
conversion will not be completed for 15-20 years or more. However, an interim safety
improvement to lengthen some existing acceleration and deceleration lanes in the project area will
be constructed in 2010. Also, the first minor change needed to convert to freeway is planned in
2015. This will be the relocation of County E such that the intersection is moved from US 18/151 to
How might this study affect emergency services such as police, fire, EMS, and other
public services such as school bus routes?
The study team coordinates directly with all local fire, police, and EMS providers in the study area,
as well as with area school districts and their transportation service coordinators. The final highway
access plan will accommodate the delivery of emergency services and integrate school bus routes to
the greatest extent possible.
What about agricultural operations, especially cross-highway farming?
WisDOT recognizes that agricultural operations are an important part of the local and statewide
economy. Many operations currently use US 18/151 for travel and/or to gain access to the opposite
side of the highway. A survey and an advisory group meeting focusing on area farming issues were
held to add to our understanding of current and future operation needs. The information will be
used to ensure that agricultural needs are accommodated and impacts are minimized to the extent
possible by the freeway conversion.
Cost-effective alternative access to local roads is not possible for all properties. Driveways that
access individual agricultural fields or farm homes and generate little traffic may be allowed to
remain for many years beyond the time when the rest of the roadway has been converted to
freeway, as long as they function safely.
Meetings for both the general public and local officials that target specific locations within the study
area are being held in both Iowa and Dane counties.
They offer opportunities for interested stakeholders to provide input on the issues, and the alternatives under consideration. A project
mailing database has also been developed. It lists corridor residents/businesses, local officials,
emergency service providers, agricultural operators, school transportation officials, and other
interested parties. All these stakeholders are notified of upcoming corridor-wide public information