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Connect 2050

Wisconsin’s Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan

MAY 2022

Wisconsin Department of Transportation | Division of Transportation Investment Management

Bureau of Planning and Economic Development

Overview

Our quality of life and economic growth in Wisconsin depend on a safe, efficient and coordinated multimodal transportation system to move people and freight. Connect 2050, Wisconsin’s statewide long-range transportation plan provides the vision, goals, and objectives that will guide development of the statewide transportation system well into the future.

While we cannot say for certain how any of these innovations will affect us, being agile and adaptable will support a changing transportation system.

Purpose

Connect 2050 is Wisconsin’s statewide, multimodal, long-range plan, required in 23 CFR 450.216(a). The plan will facilitate decision-making or improvements to and investments in all types of transportation throughout Wisconsin from now to 2050.

Connect 2050 is …

  • Long-range. It looks ahead, decades into the future.
  • Statewide. It has a broad reach; its vision, goals, and objectives will guide WisDOT’s decision-making for all of Wisconsin and for all people.
  • Multimodal. It sets goals and objectives that apply to all modes and means of transportation in Wisconsin including roads, transit, biking, walking, rail, aviation, and water transport.

Connect 2050 includes the Vision, Goals, and Objectives for Wisconsin’s entire transportation system. A complex series of technical reports, modal plans, operational plans, business plans, local plans, and programs -- all of which are or will be guided by Connect 2050’s Vision, Goals, and Objectives. The format of Connect 2050, which relies on technical reports and other plans, is designed to ensure that Connect 2050 will stay relevant over time by pointing to the most up-to-date data, policies, and actions affecting each transportation mode. Many of these other resources are linked throughout Connect 2050. Print copies of which will be provided upon request by contacting the WisDOT Office of Public Affairs at (608) 266-3581 or by writing P.O. Box 7910, 4822 Madison Yards Way, Madison, WI 53705.

This document is designed to accompany the Connect 2050 website, which includes information that influenced development of Connect 2050 and the state of our transportation system. The website is a supplement to the plan, and it will be frequently updated as part of WisDOT’s continuous planning process.

Vision

Connect 2050’s vision statement will serve as the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT’s) guiding vision for the transportation system as it is developed and maintained over time:

WisDOT envisions an integrated multimodal transportation system that maximizes the safe and efficient movement of people and products throughout the state in a way that enhances economic productivity, transportation accessibility and the quality of Wisconsin’s communities while minimizing impacts to the natural environment, and socioeconomic, historic, and cultural resources.

The vision, carried over from the previous plan Connections 2030, is the desired destination; how we get there is identified in a complex series of plans and programs that are guided by Connect 2050’s goals and objectives. WisDOT is the state agency that oversees and establishes programs for state and federal investments in Wisconsin’s transportation system.

WisDOT collaborates with partners such as the federal agencies, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and regional planning commissions (RPCs) to oversee local, regional and statewide transportation planning processes.

Goals and Objectives

The goals and objectives in Connect 2050 are statewide and multimodal in nature, meaning that they apply to all modes of transportation and all people throughout the entire state of Wisconsin. The goals and objectives were established from the review and update of policies in the previous long-range plan, Connections 2030, and through assimilation of public comments. Over the life of the plan, the goals will guide and support development of an integrated, efficient and safe multimodal transportation system.

  • Goals are high-level statements that set direction and identify topics of critical importance to furthering the statewide multimodal transportation system.
  • Objectives are more specific than goals and identify the ends to which specific action items, or policies, will be aimed.
  • Policies are specific action-based statements that identify means by which the goals and objectives will be implemented. In the context of WisDOT’s long-range planning process, policies are identified in WisDOT’s modal plans such as the Wisconsin Rail Plan or Freight Plan, business plans such as the Transportation Asset Management Plan, or other strategic planning efforts.
  • Actions are specific activities WisDOT or other entities will perform to implement policies such as identifying a project for funding.

It is WisDOT’s goal, as part of a 3C (continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive) planning process, to update modal plans and program guidance to align with the vision, goals, and objectives in Connect 2050. Items that were included in Connections 2030, such as the State Access Management Plan and Corridors 2030, will remain in effect until superseded. Please see Appendix A for more information.

Implementation of the plan’s goals and objectives will happen through a series of short-term actions identified in technical reports, modal plans, operational plans, business plans, local plans, and programs including WisDOT’s Six-Year Highway Improvement Program and Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Please see Appendix B for more information.

Goals, objectives, policies and actions must work together to implement the Connect 2050 vision. Connect 2050 is not meant to be specific in nature but rather sets goals and objectives that are universal across all modes of travel, allowing policies and actions to be customized and successfully implemented mode by mode.

Connect 2050 Goals and Objectives

Goal 1. Pursue sustainable long-term transportation funding

Objective 1.a.

Ensure funding is managed efficiently and is sufficient to support WisDOT’s long-term plans for providing a transportation system that is in a state of good repair and is safe, efficient and accessible, all of which support Wisconsin's economy and quality of life.

Objective 1.b.

Facilitate access to funding at the regional and local level according to state and/or federal requirements, and prudent financial management of WisDOT-administered programs.

Objective 1.c.

Pursue innovative and sustainable funding mechanisms and solutions to ensure system health across all modes.

Goal 2. Focus on partnerships

Objective 2.a.

Ensure the transportation system is developed in a way that addresses the needs of all users.

Objective 2.b.

Ensure inclusivity, equity, access and safety.

Objective 2.c.

Eliminate and reduce barriers to transportation accessibility.

Objective 2.d.

Ensure the transportation system can adapt to changes over time, such as connected and automated vehicles, use of alternative fuels, telecommuting and other social changes, and the needs of an aging population.

Objective 2.e.

Collaborate with partners and stakeholders to identify strategic transportation investment opportunities.

Objective 2.f.

Identify and communicate transportation system needs, priorities and benefits to maximize transportation investments.

Objective 2.g.

Ensure project considerations include the character and need of communities.

Goal 3. Pursue continuous improvement and expand data-driven decision-making processes

Objective 3.a.

Strategically align resources and emphasize integrating performance-based decision-making throughout the Department.

Objective 3.b.

Use cost-effective techniques to maximize transportation investments.

Objective 3.c.

Continue using performance measures to inform sound investment decisions.

Objective 3.d.

Be agile in adapting to changing data needs over time.

Objective 3.e.

Assess, expand and improve data collection through technological means by processing, monitoring, using, reporting and sharing data.

Goal 4. Increase options, connections, and mobility for people and goods

Objective 4.a.

Ensure adequate system mobility to support and enhance Wisconsin’s quality of life and economic competitiveness though system reliability, efficiency, and a resilient supply chain.

Objective 4.b.

Enhance transportation equity, access, mobility, and safety.

Objective 4.c.

Facilitate mode choice options that support transit use and active transportation such as bicycling and walking.

Objective 4.d.

Close gaps and create an inter-connected network of transportation facilities to move people and goods safely and efficiently.

Objective 4.e.

Promote and implement Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies to improve efficiency, equity, and access by developing a connected multimodal transportation system and reducing single occupancy vehicle travel.

Goal 5. Maximize technology benefits

Objective 5.a.

Identify opportunities to integrate transportation and technology that will support WisDOT’s vision.

Objective 5.b.

Embrace technology and be agile in implementing technology-based solutions to improve all aspects of transportation including materials, safety, resiliency, operations, maintenance, and transportation system impacts on sensitive resources.

Objective 5.c.

Use technology and data to maximize transportation investment benefits.

Goal 6. Maximize transportation safety

Objective 6.a.

Develop and maintain a system that is safe and secure.

Objective 6.b.

Strategically align resources to make progress toward the goal of zero fatalities in Wisconsin.

Objective 6.c.

Leverage data and technology to improve safety.

Objective 6.d.

Research and implement innovative safety solutions that involve education, engineering, enforcement, emergency management, and everyone.

Goal 7. Maximize transportation system resiliency and reliability

Objective 7.a.

Develop physical and operational systems that are adept at preventing, preparing for and coordinating responses to any incident, whether natural or the result of human activity.

Objective 7.b.

Emphasize system resiliency to reduce repair costs and improve safety and security.

Objective 7.c.

Identify and assess risk-based solutions for system vulnerabilities.

Goal 8. Balance transportation needs with those of the natural environment, socioeconomic, historic, and cultural resources

Objective 8.a.

Develop a transportation system that avoids, minimizes and compensates for environmental impacts.

Objective 8.b.

Prioritize emissions reduction and alternative fuels to improve air quality.

Objective 8.c.

Reduce waste and recycle materials during transportation projects.

Objective 8.d.

Consider cultural, socioeconomic, and historic resources during the project development process.

Objective 8.e.

Foster a safe and environmentally sensitive transportation system.

Guiding Principles

People are at the heart of Connect 2050’s strategic direction. These guiding principles recognize who uses Wisconsin’s transportation system and demonstrate the commitment to accessibility for all. Equity is recognized throughout this plan as a vital component to ensuring that the transportation system works for all Wisconsinites. Connect 2050 guiding principles represent a commitment to do the following:

  • Implement and maintain a safe and efficient statewide multimodal transportation system that provides safe, affordable, accessible, and equitable transportation choices for all people.
  • Ensure that no person is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, sex, age, religion, income status or limited English proficiency in any programs, activities or services administered by WisDOT.
  • Embrace a continuing, cooperative, comprehensive planning process.

Connect 2050 represents a statewide planning effort among MPOs, local communities, all affected transportation agencies, and WisDOT. For more information, see the WisDOT Coordination Document.

Public Involvement

WisDOT public engagement strategies were conducted in accordance with the Connect 2050 Public Involvement Plan (PIP), approved by WisDOT in February 2020.

The PIP outlines a comprehensive public involvement process that helps ensure Connect 2050 and its related transportation system decisions incorporate input from Wisconsin’s residents, businesses and other transportation system users.

The Connect 2050 public involvement process that the PIP originally outlined has been updated to reflect the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic. During the Pre-Draft Plan phase, all engagement was conducted virtually, and all in-person engagements were cancelled in accordance with state and local public health guidelines for group gatherings during the Pandemic.

Comments and feedback received through public involvement activities contributed toward developing Connect 2050’s goals and objectives. The engagement strategies used, and comments received during the planning process are found in Appendix D.

State Planning Regulations

Trans 400.07(2)(b)2 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code indicates a System Plan Environmental Evaluation (SEE) may be prepared if proposals within system plans may significantly affect the quality of the human environment and represent a significant departure from, or expansion of, the department’s existing responsibilities by substantially expanding or reducing total resources allocated to any existing programs. WisDOT has determined that a SEE is not necessary for this plan. Connect 2050 does not constitute a statewide system plan and does not include major and significant new proposals.

Federal Planning Regulations

23 CFR 450.216 requires states to develop a long-range statewide transportation plan with a minimum 20-year plan horizon at the time of adoption that provides for the development and implementation of the multimodal transportation system. The long-range statewide transportation plans all consider and include, as applicable, elements and connections between public transportation, non motorized modes, rail, commercial motor vehicles, and waterway and aviation facilities, particularly with respect to intercity travel.

In accordance with 23 CFR 450.220, WisDOT certifies that its statewide transportation planning process addresses major issues facing the state and is being carried out in accordance with the following requirements:

  • 23 USC 134 and 135, 49 USC 5303 and 5304.
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (42 USC 2000d–1) and 49 CFR 21.
  • 49 USC 5332, prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, or age in employment or business opportunity.
  • 23 CFR 230, regarding implementation of an equal employment opportunity program on Federal and Federal-aid highway construction contracts.
  • Section 1101(b) of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) (P.L.114-357), and 49 CFR 26 regarding the involvement of disadvantaged business enterprises in the USDOT funded projects.
  • The provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 USC 12101 et seq.) and 49 CFR 27, 37, 38.
  • In nonattainment and maintenance areas, Sections 174 and 176 (c) and (d) of the Clean Air Act, as amended (42 USC 7504, 7506 (c) and(d)) and 40 CFR 93.
  • The Older Americans Act, as amended (42 USC 6101), prohibiting discrimination based on age in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance.
  • Section 23 USC 324, regarding the prohibition of discrimination based on gender.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 USC 794) and 49 CFR 27 regarding discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

Federal Planning Factors

States must address 10 factors when creating a statewide transportation plan. The matrix below identifies the planning factors, and how each planning factor ties to the goals of Connect 2050.

Federal Planning Factor Matrix

Federal Planning Factor

Connect 2050 Goal

1. Support the economic vitality of the United States, the states, metropolitan areas, and nonmetropolitan areas, especially by enabling global competitiveness, productivity, and efficiency.

  • Pursue sustainable long-term transportation funding.
  • Pursue continuous improvement and expand data-driven decision-making processes.
  • Maximize technology benefits.

2. Increase the safety of the transportation system for motorized and nonmotorized users.

Maximize transportation safety.

3. Increase the security of the transportation system for motorized and nonmotorized users.

Maximize transportation safety.

4. Increase accessibility and mobility of people and freight.

Increase options, connections, and mobility for people and goods.

5. Protect and enhance the environment, promote energy conservation, improve the quality of life, and promote consistency between transportation improvements and state and local planned growth and economic development patterns.

Balance transportation needs with those of the natural environment, socioeconomic, historic and cultural resources.

6. Enhance the integration and connectivity of the transportation system, across and between modes throughout the state, for people and freight.

Increase options, connections, and mobility for people and goods.

7. Promote efficient system management and operations. 

  • Pursue continuous improvement and expand data-driven decision-making processes.
  • Maximize technology benefits.

8. Emphasize the preservation of the existing transportation system.

  • Pursue continuous improvement and expand data-driven decision-making processes.
  • Maximize technology benefits.

9. Improve the resiliency and reliability of the transportation system and reduce or mitigate stormwater impacts of surface transportation.

Maximize transportation system resiliency and reliability.

10. Enhance travel and tourism.

Increase options, connections, and mobility for people and goods.

Performance-Based Decision-Making

Performance-based decision-making entails setting targets and analyzing trends, combined with measuring and tracking progress toward meeting targets. When WisDOT measures progress, we can identify what we are doing well and what areas need improvement, allowing for prioritization of constructive actions.

In 2012, USDOT established performance target setting and reporting requirements for states and MPOs. More information and links to the most recent federal targets can be found on WisDOT’s Federal Transportation Performance Measures webpage.

In addition to the federal requirements, WisDOT’s MAPSS Performance Improvement Program focuses on five core goals of Mobility, Accountability, Preservation, Safety, and Service (MAPSS). These associated performance measures, which are reported upon quarterly, guide WisDOT in achieving its mission “to provide leadership in the development and operation of a safe and efficient transportation system.” See Appendix C for more information.

WisDOT also combines performance management with asset management. The Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP) identifies investment strategies to maximize system performance. As time goes on and performance is monitored and reported, performance targets are updated, and the asset management-based investment strategies are updated to reflect the current system conditions.

This cycle, when combined with the strategic direction in Connect 2050 and other planning documents, provides WisDOT a continuous process by which conditions are monitored, investments are prioritized, and policy direction is set. This is done to ensure the transportation system is operated, maintained and improved in the most efficient way possible.

Goal 1. Pursue sustainable long-term transportation funding

Goal 1. Objectives

  • 1.a. Ensure funding is managed efficiently and is sufficient to support WisDOT’s long-term plans for providing a transportation system that is in a state of good repair and is safe, efficient and accessible, all of which support Wisconsin’s economy and quality of life.
  • 1.b. Facilitate access to funding at the regional and local level according to state and/or federal requirements, and prudent financial management of WisDOT-administered programs.
  • 1.c. Pursue innovative and sustainable funding mechanisms and solutions to ensure system health across all modes.

Funding is the key to maintain and develop Wisconsin’s transportation system so that it is safe for all users, meets current and future demand, and exists in a state of good repair that facilitates lowering long-term costs. This leverages prudent asset management practices that maximize the benefit of available funding.

Transportation funding is complex and generally involves federal, state, and local funding sources, and sometimes private funding. Financial management and asset management techniques help ensure prudent use of funding. For more information on financial and asset management concepts, please see Goal 3 and Goal 5.

Funding for transportation infrastructure or service differs greatly based on mode. Funding source, funding rules, budgetary constraints, and level of public and private involvement can differ greatly.

For example, federal transportation funds generally come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund and are then subdivided into the Highway Account to fund highway related projects, and the Mass Transit Account to fund transit related projects. The Highway Trust Fund revenues primarily come from federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. Federal formula transportation funds are authorized or given the authority to be spent up to a certain level, which is identified in the current federal transportation reauthorization act. Funds are then appropriated, which identifies the amounts and purposes for which funds can be used. Once appropriated, budget authority allows funds to be spent. Generally, budget authority is not given at 100 percent of the funding level. Once both funds and budget are available, the funds can be obligated or put on specific projects. All funding sources have limitations on how they can be used, which are outlined in the federal transportation reauthorization act. Federal discretionary transportation funds are competitive in nature and must be applied for, and contain limitations identified in their enabling legislation.

State funds on the other hand, largely come from state fuel taxes and vehicle-related fees and are allocated through the state’s biennial budget process. State and federal transportation funds are appropriated to various transportation programs by the state legislature. Transportation programs are limited in their use by state and federal rules.

Regardless of the source of transportation funds, between now and 2050, the landscape of transportation will change. While we do not know what specific technologies will change transportation and how they will do so, we do know that increases in use of electric and alternatively fueled vehicles will become more common and lead to declining fuel-tax revenue for transportation funding. For more information on WisDOT’s budget trends, please see the latest Transportation Budget Trends Report.

However, obtaining sufficient funding to adequately maintain and improve infrastructure across Wisconsin’s transportation systems will remain a challenge. This further highlights the importance of sustainable, long-term transportation funding at the federal, state, regional, and local levels to provide the resources to address transportation needs over time.

WisDOT also administers state and federal funds to local units of government through many different programs. Partnering with local governments to inform them about available funding opportunities, equitable access to funding when available, and the means to properly manage funds if awarded, has been and will always be vital to appropriately and responsibly using available funding. While WisDOT is the primary state agency managing the transportation system, its authority is limited.

For example, WisDOT manages the state, U.S. and Interstate highway systems in Wisconsin, but local authorities control most roadway miles.

The state-managed system carries about 60 percent of Wisconsin’s traffic but comprises only about 10 percent of total roadway miles.

Effective partnerships (see Goal 2) foster relationships, so that all Wisconsinites are working toward a common goal, efficiently managing and maximizing available funding, and practicing prudent stewardship of available resources.

Goal 2. Focus on partnerships

Goal 2. Objectives

  • 2.a. Ensure the transportation system is developed in a way that addresses the needs of all users.
  • 2.b. Ensure inclusivity, equity, access and safety.
  • 2.c. Eliminate and reduce barriers to transportation accessibility.
  • 2.d. Ensure the transportation system can adapt to changes over time, such as connected and automated vehicles, use of alternative fuels, telecommuting and other social changes, and the needs of an aging population.
  • 2.e. Collaborate with partners and stakeholders to identify strategic transportation investment opportunities.
  • 2.f. Identify and communicate transportation system needs, priorities and benefits to maximize transportation investments.
  • 2.g. Ensure project considerations include the character and need of communities.

Effective partners work together to identify common goals. They communicate with each other and help each other when support is needed. Wisconsin will focus on transportation partnerships to coordinate and cooperate toward shared objectives.

As Wisconsin heads toward the future, we know that how, when and why people make trips will change. People will use more connected and automated vehicles; our needs will change as Wisconsin’s population ages; telecommuting for work may increase; and alternatively fueled vehicles may become more predominant in society. Fostering partnerships with experts, advocacy groups, agencies, and businesses that have insight into these changes and the ability to share information with users will ensure that strategic investment decisions are made with the best available information and data so that the transportation system will be adaptable to changes over time.

Partnerships throughout the transportation planning and project development process – from the time a transportation need is identified, to the time the solution is funded and constructed – are vital to ensure equity so that all voices and perspectives are heard, and solutions address user needs to the maximum extent practicable. This involves identification of and interaction with stakeholders – or those who have interest in a project.

For example, stakeholder identification for a state highway project in a small Wisconsin downtown may involve residents, businesses and local units of government. Identifying and working with these groups and others, helps find satisfactory solutions.

Transportation is fundamentally intertwined with the needs of society, linking people to places, services, and products. Transportation partnerships allow us to work together to ensure the transportation system is safe, efficient, and effective for all users – from maintaining a state of good repair on physical infrastructure to eliminating and reducing barriers to transportation accessibility, such as sidewalk gaps and areas without transit service (see Goal 4).

WisDOT works to collaborate with others through committees such as Wisconsin Automated Vehicle External Advisory Committee (WAVE), Freight Advisory Committee (FAC), and Wisconsin Non-Driver Advisory Committee (WiNDAC). These groups include members representing many a wide array of interests, and they provide input and advice about planning priorities, system user needs, implementation policies, strategic investment opportunities, and impacts on the state’s transportation system.

Goal 3. Pursue continuous improvement and expand data-driven decision-making processes

Goal 3. Objectives

  • 3.a. Strategically align resources and emphasize integrating performance-based decision-making throughout the Department.
  • 3.b. Use cost-effective techniques to maximize transportation investments.
  • 3.c. Continue using performance measures to inform sound investment decisions.
  • 3.d. Be agile in adapting to changing data needs overtime.
  • 3.e. Assess, expand and improve data collection through technological means by processing, monitoring, using, reporting and sharing data.

The process to use data for transportation decision-making has been around for decades at the state-level. WisDOT currently uses its MAPSS Performance Improvement Program, combined with Federal Transportation Performance Measures to set targets and track progress for many different factors. WisDOT also uses performance-based practical design techniques (PBPD). PBPD uses performance analysis tools to ensure the development of cost-effective solutions that increase net system benefit of improvement projects.

Data analytics and its use for understanding transportation needs and performance, helps inform decision-making at many levels. For example, data is used as a basis of travel advisories in adverse weather; data is used to determine project scope and prioritize the timing of maintenance and improvement of physical infrastructure; and data helps us understand system use such as annual average daily traffic and the number of passengers on trains, buses and planes.

WisDOT will continue to pursue improvements to data-driven decision-making processes by expanding its use, improving data and processes, and by using performance metrics to achieve goals and maximize transportation investment benefits.

Data-driven decision-making ensures that the transportation system is operated, maintained, and improved in the most efficient and effective way possible, so that the right project is implemented in the right place and at the right time. Using data to inform sound investment decisions is the foundation of prudent stewardship and is also known as asset management. The department’s asset management approaches use data to inform decision-making to get the most system benefit from transportation investments.

Asset management is more than just financial and performance data analysis; it also relies on models that incorporate material science and asset deterioration information. Asset management is at play when determining project scopes such as crack repair, resurface, reconstruction, or the use of recycled materials.

For state, U.S., and Interstate highways, the department developed a Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP), that identifies strategic investment decisions that will preserve and maintain the useful life of transportation assets over time. While the TAMP is highway focused, Wisconsin will seek to integrate the fundamental principles of asset management and data-driven decision-making throughout modal investments over time, so that all programs, not just the highway programs, are using strategic data-driven decision-making to inform investment decisions. When funding transit vehicle replacement WisDOT uses a performance-based approach, considering useful life (age and miles) and operational safety thresholds (vehicle damage that presents a safety hazard) to prioritize funding.

As technology advances (see Goal 5), how we collect, use, manage, and share data will change. Wisconsin must remain ready to adapt to technologies that improve data in a way that can enhance the quality of transportation investment decisions.

Goal 4. Increase options, connections, and mobility for people and goods

Goal 4. Objectives

  • 4.a. Ensure adequate system mobility to support and enhance Wisconsin’s quality of life and economic competitiveness though system reliability, efficiency and a resilient supply chain.
  • 4.b. Enhance transportation equity, access, mobility and safety.
  • 4.c. Facilitate mode choice options that support transit use and active transportation such as bicycling and walking.
  • 4.d. Close gaps and create an interconnected network of transportation facilities to move people and goods safely and efficiently.
  • 4.e. Promote and implement Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies to improve efficiency, equity, and access by developing a connected multimodal transportation system and reducing single occupancy vehicle travel.

Mobility and transportation choices are at the core of an efficient and effective transportation system, which is critical to Wisconsin’s economic vitality and quality of life.

Ensuring adequate and reliable mobility, or ability to travel without excessive and unexpected delay, and enhancing transportation choices, or the ways by which people and goods move, provides many benefits for both people and businesses. Benefits include increased access to jobs and wholesale and consumer goods and services; reduced congestion and lower transportation costs from improved system efficiency, and improved efficiency can improve air quality; and increased options for moving goods, agricultural products, and other freight creates a more resilient supply chain. All these benefits enhance Wisconsin’s economic competitiveness and quality of life.

Improving connections and closing gaps between modes are critical to increasing mobility and equity, and to creating a network of transportation facilities that are interconnected and allow people and goods to move easily from one mode to another. An example of this is the Milwaukee Intermodal Station which integrates Amtrak, local transit, coach busses, automobiles, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and ridesharing services all in one location. This allows passengers to ride a bicycle to a bus stop in their neighborhood, take the bus and their bike to the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, and jump on a train to Chicago or Minneapolis with their bike. This smooth transfer from mode-to-mode exemplifies Wisconsin’s vision for mobility.

A large urban facility, while a good example of enhanced mobility, mode choices and connections, is not possible for many of Wisconsin’s more rural and smaller communities. Enhancing mode choices, access, and equity for small and rural communities may include options such as park-and-ride facilities, increased transit service, or improving sidewalk connections within the community.

Increasing mobility can also be achieved by reducing congestion. The department will continue to prioritize reducing congestion and emphasize innovative options to do so, such as using flex lanes to accommodate increased traffic during peak hours and offering viable alternatives to driving that include transit and active transportation options such as bicycling and walking. Increasing system capacity by adding lanes is typically considered when less intensive options are not effective solutions to address a roadway project’s purpose and need.

Enhancing mobility and mode choices is not a one-size-fits-all solution – it will vary depending upon local needs. Consequently, it is important to partner with local communities and organizations to find mobility solutions that will work for the community (see Goal 2).

Increasing mode choice options and enhancing mobility in Wisconsin can reduce travel time and improve transportation equity, access and– in many instances – safety.

Vehicles including cars, trucks and motorcycles comprise about 80 percent of annual person miles of travel in Wisconsin.

Airplanes, which cover long distances, account for about 14 percent of total annual person miles of travel.

Transit use makes up about 4 percent (rounded), reflecting the limited availability of transit in nonurban areas of the state.

Source: Federal Highway Administration. National Household Travel Survey,. 2017.

Goal 5. Maximize technology benefits

Goal 5. Objectives

  • 5.a. Identify opportunities to integrate transportation and technology that will support WisDOT’s vision.
  • 5.b. Embrace technology and be agile in implementing technology-based solutions to improve all aspects of transportation including materials, safety, resiliency, operations, maintenance, and transportation system impacts on sensitive resources.
  • 5.c. Use technology and data to maximize transportation investment benefits.

Technological change occurs rapidly, and that trend is expected to continue from now through 2050. About 30 years ago in the 1990s, the first website was published to the internet, many cars on the road still had carburetors, and cell phones were just beginning to be marketed to the public. Now, cell phones are in the pockets of almost everyone, internet access is deemed a necessity, and new vehicles are controlled by a complex series of computers and sensors.

Sometimes, an identified need will facilitate the search for a technology-based solution. Other times, a new technology will facilitate decisions on how to incorporate it to help improve existing circumstances.

The purpose of this goal is to continue a proactive and agile approach to using new technologies that provide transportation benefits and increase the cost-effectiveness of transportation solutions.

Connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology in simple form is expected to make driving safer through functionality such as lane departure assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assistance, and braking assistance, etc. Other CAV technology communicates with infrastructure, other vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles or other devices equipped with a compatible technology. Many vehicles on the road today have limited connected and automated technology, and research is being done on topics that will instruct broader implementation, including the possibility of fully automated vehicles. CAV technology has the potential to make the transportation system safer by reducing crashes and increasing system efficiency by improving the ability to adjust vehicles speeds to keep traffic flowing better. WisDOT has been, and will continue to implement Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and Automated Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) solutions that help operational efficiency and safety by communicating information to CAV and non-CAV vehicles.

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison. Wisconsin Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds website (Accessed July 2020) Retrieved from https://wiscav.org/.

WisDOT has established an advisory team of stakeholders, known as the Wisconsin Automated Vehicle External Advisory Committee (WAVE). This committee was created to review CAV issues and provide input and advice to WisDOT on CAV related planning priorities, implementation policies, and transportation system impacts (see Goal 2).

Technology has potential to reduce transportation’s impact on sensitive resources (see Goal 8). Electric and other alternatively fueled vehicles, combined with technologies that improve traffic flow, can reduce emissions, and improve air quality. The use of liquid brine is reducing the use of road salt during the winter months, thereby reducing salt runoff, and providing water quality and many other environmental benefits.

Technology will continue to influence shipping and freight. Examples include safety and regulatory items such as Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to ensure truck drivers operate under hours-of-service rules; sonar surveys of inland rivers to ensure channels are of sufficient depth and free of obstructions; and Positive Train Control (PTC) systems that prevent train collisions. WisDOT’s use of technology for freight includes Weigh-In-Motion (WIM) systems and infrared cameras (to ensure brake function) at Safety and Weight Enforcement Facilities (SWEFs). Technology is also used to improve efficiency and service, including real-time monitors of intermodal containers that detect location, internal temperature, and security of the door locks. These and other technologies are used to establish performance measures for the transportation providers and are used to generate predictive analytics that identify equipment to be serviced before in-transit failures occur.

WisDOT regularly engages with the freight community on discussions that include the application of technology to freight transportation. Partnerships such as the Freight Advisory Committee (FAC) and the Motor Carrier Advisory Committee (MCAC) help ensure that technology-based investments are efficiently and appropriately integrated with the freight system (see Goal 2).

Technological advances do not just affect cars and infrastructure. Technology-driven transportation advancement occurs in other modes, like shared mobility, or ridesharing such as Uber and Lyft, bike sharing services (i.e., rent a bicycle for a short trip), and micromobility services such as rental scooters (see Goal 4). Technology has created opportunities for shared mobility options and has the potential to offer increased transportation choices. Communities will be challenged in the next 30 years to better understand how to integrate technology into local infrastructure as these changes occur.

While technology will play a key role in creating a more safe and efficient system, there are many challenges associated with new technologies such as connected and automated vehicles and related infrastructure technologies, access to technology-based services for people who may not have a cell phone or internet access, and system security and resiliency from cyber-attacks. We do not yet know how all these challenges will be overcome, but we are confident they will be.

Goal 6. Maximize transportation safety

Goal 6. Objectives

  • 6.a. Develop and maintain a system that is safe and secure.
  • 6.b. Strategically align resources to make progress toward the goal of zero fatalities in Wisconsin.
  • 6.c. Leverage data and technology to improve safety.
  • 6.d. Research and implement innovative safety solutions that involve education, engineering, enforcement, emergency management, and everyone.

WisDOT has always prioritized transportation safety. A safe transportation system benefits all of Wisconsin, whether by providing safe highways for freight movement and vehicular traffic, safe ways for pedestrians to cross roadways, or safe and secure airport facilities. Safety and security are naturally intertwined; Wisconsin’s focus on creating a resilient transportation system (see Goal 7) and continuing to improve the ability to prevent, coordinate, respond to, and recover from incidents, will create a system that is safe and secure for all users.

Wisconsin must employ a comprehensive approach to safety for all modes that comprises of the following “5 Es”:

  • Education programs such as “Click It or Ticket,” “Wisconsin Motorcycle Safety Program,” “Safe Routes to School” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” are critical to emphasizing the importance of safety to all users. WisDOT partners with local governments, federal agencies, stakeholders, and many others to disseminate transportation safety information and spread awareness on how we can all play a part in creating a safer system.
  • Engineering includes building and re-building facilities to improve safety. This could be as simple as adding a shelter to an existing bus stop, adding lighting or improved signage to a roadway, or as complex as reconstructing a section of roadway to improve sight distance and reduce crashes.
  • Enforcement is essential for improving transportation safety. Ensuring that traffic laws are being followed is a major component of changing driver behavior to encourage safe practices. For example, the enforcement component of the “Click It or Ticket” program, combined with its educational elements helped Wisconsin reach 89.2 percent safety belt usage in 2020 (WisDOT MAPSS Performance Improvement Report, October 2020).
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) involves incident response and ensuring that EMS professionals can arrive at the scene of an incident as quickly as possible to provide life-saving services.
  • Everyone is responsible for safety.

Implementation of innovative safety measures, using data and technology, and strategically aligning resources are integral to WisDOT’s efforts to progress toward its goal of zero transportation fatalities (see Goal 5). As an example of Wisconsin’s commitment to transportation safety, WisDOT monitors, measures, and reports on safety performance data through Federal Transportation Performance Measures (TPM) and the MAPSS Performance Improvement Program.

WisDOT, in partnership with the Wisconsin Traffic Operations and Safety (TOPS) Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison created the WisTransPortal Data Hub. The system provides a central source of traffic operations, safety, and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) data. WisTransPortal is an ongoing effort to ensure that WisDOT and its partners have access to current data to align resources and make strategic investment decisions at the state and local levels. The behavioral safety component of WisTransPortal, Community Maps provides a user-friendly tool with nearly real-time data to identify crash hotspots.

WisDOT’s Bureau of Aeronautics administers an initiative called the Airport NextGen Program. The focus of this state funded program is to enhance the safety and efficiency of Wisconsin’s air transportation system. The first phase of the program will include obstruction clearing of trees and other vegetation in and around runway approach areas at select airports within the State Airport System Plan. This is being accomplished because obstruction removal is integral to the safe aircraft operation environment and capacity of Wisconsin’s airports. This program will allow aircraft operations to take advantage of NextGen aeronautical technology and fully utilize related runway approach and departure infrastructure. Over the next several years, subsequent phases will further enhance the safety of Wisconsin’s air transportation system.

Source: Federal Highway Administration. “Transportation Performance Management State Profile: Wisconsin.” June 2020. Retrieved from https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tpm/reporting/state/.

A key component of WisDOT’s safety efforts is Wisconsin’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), a statewide, comprehensive, and data-driven plan that identifies the leading issue areas, both behavioral and infrastructure related, to improve statewide safety. Infrastructure related safety improvements are identified in the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and behavioral related safety improvements are identified in the Highway Safety Plan (HSP).

At the local level, WisDOT works with Traffic Safety Commissions (TSCs) to implement the statewide SHSP (see Goal 2). WisDOT strives to provide support to the TSCs through data, countermeasures, and sometimes funding. Required for each county by Wisconsin Statute 83.013, TSCs are critical to addressing safety on Wisconsin’s roadways and creating a system that is safe for all users. WisDOT is currently working on a 12-county pilot project with the TSCs to use predictive analytics and Community Maps to identify crash hotspots and develop proactive education, engineering and enforcement solutions to change driver behavior.

Goal 7. Maximize transportation system resiliency and reliability

Goal 7. Objectives

  • 7.a. Develop physical and operational systems that are adept at preventing, preparing for and coordinating responses to any incident, whether natural or the result of human activity.
  • 7.b. Emphasize system resiliency to reduce repair costs and improve safety and security.
  • 7.c. Identify and assess risk-based solutions for system vulnerabilities.

Resiliency is defined as the ability for the transportation system to continue operating in the face of an obstacle. Reliability is defined as the ability to move people and goods successfully and consistently when impacted by congestion, inclement weather, crashes, etc. Reliability and resiliency typically go hand in hand; if the system is resilient, it will be reliable for users. Resiliency and reliability with respect to transportation infrastructure and services involves a strategic risk-based approach that prioritizes investments to ensure the transportation system is sufficiently prepared to withstand, or operate acceptably, when facing adverse weather events, the effects of climate change, and cyber-security threats.

To enhance the resiliency and reliability of the transportation system, and in accordance with federal requirements, Wisconsin will continue to focus on resiliency with infrastructure assessments, like those in Facilities Repeatedly Requiring Repair and Reconstruction (F4R). This program, required by 23 CFR 667, identifies and conducts evaluations of roadways and bridges that have had catastrophic damage resulting in state emergency declarations on two or more occasions. These efforts identify and consider alternatives that will mitigate, or partially or fully resolve, the root cause of the recurring damage.

In addition to F4R, WisDOT is currently developing a flood-risk assessment tool to identify locations on the state highway system with the highest risk of experiencing flooding or being significantly impacted by flooding. This tool will use data and a risk-based scoring system combined with a project prioritization methodology to identify high-risk flood-prone areas for improvement throughout the state at the ¼-mile level.

Extreme flooding events impact the highway system by damaging infrastructure such as roads or bridges, thus reducing mobility for people and goods. This tool will enhance WisDOT’s ability to implement strategic, cost-effective solutions that will increase the resiliency of the highway system. After successful proof of concept, WisDOT will share its approach to facilitate local application of strategic risk assessment and prioritization.

Moving toward 2050, planning, leveraging technology, and implementing cost effective solutions will play a major role in creating a more resilient and reliable system. To be successful, Wisconsin must remain vigilant in its preparation by ensuring: robust data-driven consideration in the planning, design, and prioritization processes; and responses to incidents such as crashes, flooding, and extreme winter weather are well coordinated and efficiently and effectively implemented.

Goal 8. Balance transportation needs with those of the natural environment, socioeconomic, historic, and cultural resources

Goal 8. Objectives

  • 8.a. Develop a transportation system that avoids, minimizes and compensates for environmental impacts.
  • 8.b. Prioritize emissions reduction and alternative fuels to improve air quality.
  • 8.c. Reduce waste and recycle materials during transportation projects.
  • 8.d. Consider cultural, socioeconomic, and historic resources during the project development process.
  • 8.e. Foster a safe and environmentally sensitive transportation system.

The natural environment and Wisconsin’s cultural resources contribute greatly to our quality of life. The transportation system must be developed and maintained in a way that balances transportation needs with those of the landscapes in which transportation exists. Landscapes include the physical environment such as waterways, forests and neighborhoods, but also include socioeconomic interests and resources such as access to food, jobs and healthcare. It is vital that we understand the interests of the public (see Goal 2) to successfully balance transportation decisions with other resource interests.

Wisconsin’s strong agricultural roots, historic resources (such as historic homes and buildings), and cultural resources such as archaeological sites continue to influence where and how we build our transportation infrastructure. This will continue to the year 2050, and beyond.

Sometimes, transportation projects impact the environment. WisDOT and all involved in the transportation planning process ensure that environmental impacts are avoided whenever possible. When impacts are unavoidable, the goal is to minimize the impacts, where possible, and compensate for the impacts through programs such as Wisconsin’s wetland mitigation banking program. The wetland mitigation banking program restored more than 5,800 acres of wetlands since 1993. For more information, please see WisDOT’s Environmental Programs webpage.

As we move toward 2050, we can help reduce transportation’s impact on the environment in many ways. For example, alternatively fueled vehicles can greatly reduce emissions and improve air quality along transportation corridors. Air quality conformity must be planned for and improvements made.

Material recycling during construction projects not only reduce project cost, but also reduce the amount of raw material such as rock or sand that must be extracted from the earth for use as construction materials (see Goal 3).

Innovative design, construction, and maintenance techniques may reduce physical impacts to landscapes. WisDOT currently strives to reduce roadside mowing and uses native vegetation management practices to reduce overall maintenance costs while providing habitat for native and endangered pollinator species. It is anticipated that technological advancements will help to better evaluate sensitive resources and better identify related transportation impacts (see Goal 5). Avoiding and minimizing impacts will help preserve Wisconsin’s valued resources.

To help prevent wintertime road and driveway closures, WisDOT works with rural areas and residents to implement living snow fences, These "fences" are naturally occurring or strategically planted trees, shrubs and native grasses that trap and control blowing and drifting snow, pilling it up before it reaches a road, waterway, farmstead or community.

Innovation, technological advances and many other factors affect the travel of people and goods. Emerging modes of transportation such as automated vehicles, e-bikes, and shared vehicles have the potential to provide enhanced mobility and accessibility to businesses, drivers, and nondrivers. Technologies such as alternatively fueled vehicles, hybrid trains, and connected infrastructure have potential to improve air quality through emission reduction, increase travel time reliability, reduce congestion, and increase transportation safety for everyone. Social changes such as telecommuting and home delivery services may completely change the number and frequency of trips we take throughout the week.