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Drivers see backups along I-94 as construction begins

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Work has begun and will continue until mid-May for the addition of an auxiliary lane of traffic between 25th and 37th street.

The work will link the auxiliary lane at 35th street with the lane in the Marquette Interchange that ends at 25th street under the current configuration.

When work is completed there will be three westbound lanes and the auxiliary lane connecting the Marquette Interchange with the Stadium Interchange.

The work scheduled for this spring will restore the second lane for I-794 westbound while maintaining the improvements along I-43 southbound to I-94 westbound.

There will be a single lane closure along I-94 westbound beginning on March 6th and running until mid-April. Additional off-peak, overnight and weekend work will continue until mid-May. Eastbound traffic will see some impacts due to median work that is required. There will be no lane closures eastbound.

For many Milwaukee drivers, Thursday, March 7th began with a backup.

"We certainly saw some delays that were pretty stout. At one point, there were some delays that reached back about five miles on I-794," Michael Pyritz with the Wisconsin DOT said.

That was just after 8:00 a.m. as I-794 drivers headed north or west during the first day of the DOT's newest construction project.

"Every major project we start -- the first few days are very difficult, and they're gonna get better. It's never gonna be perfect. It's a construction project," Pyritz said.

This particular project is aimed at improving traffic flow on I-794 and I-94 westbound through the Marquette Interchange. It involves adding a lane from the M-Change through the 35th Street interchange.

The project began with Thursday's closure of one westbound lane at the Marquette Interchange.

"That lane will remain closed until the end of March, at which time we can open up that one lane that we closed. By the time the project is all said and done, and that'll be in mid-May, we will have the auxillary from the Stadium back to the Marquette. So you'll have four effective useful lanes of traffic in the westbound lanes," Pyritz said.

Pyritz says this should serve as a short-term fix for what has become hazardous congestion, as vehicles trying to merge in the Marquette were adversely affecting traffic heading southbound on I-43.

He says this current configuration shouldn't last long.

"The full -time closure will wrap up at the end of March," Pyritz said.

Pyritz suggests alternate routes, including Canal Street, Wisconsin Avenue, Wells and Burleigh for southbound I-43 traffic and Oklahoma or I-894 for northbound traffic.

Please check 511wi.gov for up to date information. Further project information is available at http://projects.511wi.gov/web/i-794-project .