Racine County free of I-94 construction this year

Racine County free of I-94 construction this year

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YORKVILLE — Tim Wegge isn’t sad to see a break in the Interstate 94 north-south construction project.

The owner of Burlington RV Superstore said the number of customers walking through the doors at 390 S. Sylvania Ave., Yorkville, dropped as much as 40 percent when the Highway 20 interchange was reconstructed in 2014 and 2015.

When it was over, the effect was immediately noticeable.

“As soon as that freeway opened at the end of July, our traffic shot up 30 percent, just like that,” Wegge said.

Wegge and others who commute on or near I-94 won’t have any problems with orange barrels this year, with no construction scheduled on the freeway.

The break comes as lawmakers continue to struggle over how to fund transportation, with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, calling the lack of a funding fix his single biggest disappointment of the recent legislative session.

A shortage of funds has affected the $1.6 billion north-south project and many other projects throughout the state, Department of Transportation spokesman Brian DeNeve said.

The state has continued work on Zoo Interchange reconstruction in Milwaukee County, though parts of that project were also pushed off, he said.

“It’s long been a concern,” DeNeve said of transportation funding. “At the region level, we do the best we can.”

Work returns next year

The north-south project is scheduled to resume in 2017 with the reconstruction of interchanges at Ryan Road and Elm Road and work on the I-94 roadway between the Racine/Milwaukee county line and Oakwood Road.

The state Department of Transportation in 2018 plans to reconstruct frontage roads in Racine County from Highway 20 to Highway KR as well as the intersection of Highway 20 and Highway C, DeNeve said.

He added the schedule is fluid and dependent on state funding.

While the final result is worth it, the lack of construction this year should particularly help restaurants and gas stations, said Dave Blank, president and chief executive of the county’s tourism bureau, Real Racine.

Real Racine, which has its offices at 14015 Washington Ave. in Yorkville, also saw a drop in visitors during the Highway 20 project, Blank said.

“If it looks like it’s difficult to get off (the freeway), a certain percentage of people won’t get off there,” Blank said. “Having everything flowing is great this summer.”

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