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I-41 construction project gets underway

I-41 construction project gets underway

Project to expand I-41 to sex lanes between Appleton and De Pere.

April 1, 2024 8:04 AM CDT

By: Lisa M. Hale

APPLETON, WI – (WISS & WGBW) – Drivers may be annoyed when construction starts on I-41 in April, but Scott Ebel with the Wisconsin DOT says the project is needed.

“Obviously, 41 has operational issues. It has capacity issues. This is going to help address all of those issues,” said Ebel. “When we’re all done we’re going to have wider shoulders out there. We’re going to have wider lanes. It’s going to help reduce incidents and when there are incidents people are going to have more room to pull over.”

Most of this year’s work will be done during off-peak driving times, such as overnight. Eric Gwidt with WisDOT says there will be some long-term ramp and interchange closures as the work is being done this year. 

“The main line, for the most part, will stay open. That’s what we’re striving for,” said Gwidt. “It’s going to get worse congestion-wise before it gets better.”

 Environmental and community impact from the project

While the project itself seems simple: expanding to 6-lanes, many communities and stakeholders will be affected by the DOT’s efforts, says Ebel.

“We’re affecting a dozen different communities along the stretch,” said Ebel. “There are still impacts to wetlands and natural resources, and we need to coordinate that with our resource agency partners on the project. We’ve been very fortunate to be able to do that so far.” 

Ebel says one of the environmental concerns the project has to account for is its effect on the Northern Long-Eared Bat.

Protecting the Norther Long-Eared Bat will present I-41 construction project with some restrictions when it comes to tree clearing. (Photo: Dave Redell. Courtesy of Wisconsin DNR)

“There are still areas where we are going to be affecting trees,” said Ebel. “Our tree clearing needs to occur in the winter, between November and March because of restrictions to the Northern Long-Eared Bat, which is an endangered species. We do tree clearing in the inactive season for the bat. So there are restrictions we need to account for.”    

Approximately 60 to 70 thousand vehicles drive the I-41 corridor every day. The project will fro expand I-41 to six lanes on the 23-mile stretch between Appleton and DePere. WisDOT expects the entire project to be finished by 2029.   

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