Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Tier 1, US 8 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - Need/purpose

Curve in a two-lane road section of US 8.

Need | Purpose

Need

The US 8 EIS will help WisDOT maintain an efficient transportation system that has the capacity to meet future traffic demand, improve safety and correct roadway deficiencies.

The need for improvements on US 8 has been determined based on:

Capacity deficiencies

Capacity refers to the number of vehicles that can safely travel on a segment of roadway under varying weather conditions. The capacity status of a highway is affected by its traffic volumes, the type of traffic and the geometric layout (straight, curved, flat or rolling) of the road.

US 8 was able to accommodate a variety of traffic for many years. It is now serving growing numbers of commuters and tourists from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and central Wisconsin, as well as regional trucking and local traffic, and is beginning to experience capacity-related deficiencies.

According to traffic projections, traffic volumes on US 8 will increase over 60 percent by the year 2030. Increased traffic will result in congestion along the corridor and substantial delays for traffic on side roads trying to access US 8.

Safety concerns

US 8 has experienced higher than average crash rates within the last five years in the urban areas of Turtle Lake and Barron. Traffic volumes are projected to continually increase. Increased traffic volumes result in longer, continuous traffic streams that make it difficult for vehicles to pass or to enter the highway from side roads. The high number of access points in Turtle Lake and Barron also contribute to high crash rates.

Capacity deficiencies and safety concerns in Turtle Lake and Barron indicate the potential need for bypasses of these communities. To understand how much traffic would use a potential bypass, WisDOT conducted Origin-Destination (OD) studies in Barron and Turtle Lake. Study results estimated one-third of total traffic and over one-half of truck traffic would use a bypass.

Roadway deficiencies

US 8 follows a rolling terrain with some sharp curves and several steep hills in rural areas. The steep hills limit visibility at intersections for both US 8 drivers and drivers at side roads. Many roads intersect US 8 midway between the crest and the bottom of the hill.

Although the shoulders meet current design standards for width, farm equipment moving along the two-lane US 8 creates backups. In the urban areas of Turtle Lake and Barron, there are no designated left turn lanes. Turning vehicles must use the through lane while waiting for a gap in traffic, thereby interrupting traffic flow and creating backups.

Purpose

Exit ramp from US 8 to US 53.

An EIS is a planning document that describes and analyzes issues associated with major public projects. It presents the involved agencies and the public with specific information to consider before a final decision is made.

An EIS includes specific information about:

  • Project's purpose and the need to take action.
  • Different highway design options.
  • Existing environment.
  • Expected environmental changes due to the project.
  • Steps to ensure adequate public and agency input.

Development and completion of an EIS generally takes several years and involves widespread coordination, review and public disclosure of project issues.

Comments have been sought and welcomed at each major step in the process, including the formal public hearing that was held to present and discuss the content of the Draft EIS.

Questions about the content of this page, contact:
WisDOT Northwest Region Office, nwr.dtsd@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: July 16, 2013

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