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Interstate 794 Wisconsin

 

Routing

Interstate 794 is a short freeway spur connecting Interstates 94 and 43 in downtown Milwaukee at the Marquette Interchange (which is under construction as of 2005) with the Lake Michigan shoreline. After crossing over the somewhat troubled Hoan Bridge,1 Interstate 794 changes into Wisconsin 794 (Lake Parkway), an at-grade parkway that travels south through St. Francis to Cudahy. The entire Interstate section is elevated, while the state section within the city of Milwaukee is mostly below grade.2 3

Future Aspirations

According to Scott Oglesby's excellent Kurumi.com website, there were plans in 2003 to renumber the Interstates in and around Milwaukee to decrease traffic impact in downtown Milwaukee at the Marquette Interchange (current junction of Interstate 43, Interstate 94, and Interstate 794). Under a plan recommended by Mayor John Norquist, Interstate 894 would be eliminated, and the entire route would be renumbered as Interstate 94. The section of Interstate 43/94 would become solely Interstate 43, and the section of Interstate 94 between Interstate 894 west of downtown and Interstate 794 would become part of a much longer Interstate 794.2 Near as we can tell, Mayor Norquist's proposed renumbering is not planned for implementation, since we have not been any reports of changes.

History

Interstate 794 opened in the following stages:4

  • 1968: opened from Marquette Interchange to Plankinton Ave
  • 1969: opened as far as Jackson Street
  • 1974: Hoan Bridge completed
  • 1977: Hoan Bridge opened to traffic
  • 1977: Carferry Drive interchange completed and opened to traffic

Western Terminus - Interstate 43 and Interstate 94 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Perspective from Interstate 794 west
At the offramp for Exit 1E (Milwaukee Street/Downtown), the first signage for Exits 1A-B-C (Junction Interstate 43, Interstate 94, and U.S. 41) appear along westbound Interstate 794. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Use the left lane to connect to Interstate 43 northbound and Interstate 43-94/U.S. 41 southbound. Use the right lanes to continue west along the East-West Freeway (Interstate 94 and U.S. 41). Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
An end shield for Interstate 794 is posted on westbound Interstate 794 as the East-West Freeway approaches the Interstate 43-94/U.S. 41 junction. The paired Interstates travel north to this interchange as one, then split from this point northward: Interstate 43 travels north toward Green Bay, while Interstate 94 continues its journey west toward Madison, the state capital of Wisconsin. The signs were replaced in the early 2000s; note the 1961 MUTCD specifications used in the photo from 2000 (the original shield even included the state name). The replacement signage does not contain the state name. First photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05); second photo taken by Marc Welby (07/03/00).
The left lane connects to Exit 1B, Junction Interstate 43-94/U.S. 41 south to Chicago. The number two lane (second from the left) connects to Exit 1C, Junction Interstate 43 north to Green Bay. Use the right lanes to continue west along the East-West Freeway (Interstate 94 west and U.S. 41 north). Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Interstate 94 west is signed after passing through the elevated Marquette Interchange structure. Due to ongoing reconstruction, the lane configurations through here may change. Consult Marquette Interchange Official Site for more information. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Perspective from Interstate 43/U.S. 41 north, Interstate 94 west
This is the first advance signage for Interstate 794, which connects Interstate 43 and Interstate 94 with the Port of Milwaukee and attractions along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Shortly thereafter, a mileage sign provides the distance to the next three exits: Exits 312A-B, Becher Street and Mitchell Street (with access to Lapham Boulevard and Greenfield Avenue); Exit 311, Junction Wisconsin 59, National Avenue; and Exit 310C, Junction Interstate 794 east (Marquette Interchange) and the separation of Interstate 43, U.S. 41, and Interstate 94. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
After Exits 312A-B (Becher Street and Mitchell Street), Interstate 43-94/U.S. 41 is a dual freeway, with certain lanes acting in a collector-distributor capacity. The next offramp is for Exit 311, Junction Wisconsin 59, National Avenue. Following that is the Marquette Interchange: Exit 310C, Junction Interstate 794 east (Marquette Interchange) and the separation of Interstate 43, U.S. 41, and Interstate 94. Note that the brief dual freeway configuration comes to an end. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Now passing under the Greenfield Avenue viaduct, the next two exits are the offramp to Wisconsin 59/National Avenue (Exit 311) and the Marquette Interchange (Exit 310C): Junction Interstate 794 east, Interstate 43 north, and Interstate 94 west/U.S. 41 north. The freeway connects to a viaduct. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
After passing the Wisconsin 59/National Avenue offramp, Interstate 43-94/U.S. 41 prepare to split. Use the right lane to connect to eastbound Interstate 794 to the lakefront; the middle two lanes to continue north on Interstate 43 toward Sheboygan, Manitowoc, and Green Bay; and the left lane to continue west on Interstate 94 and north on U.S. 41. This configuration may change due to continuing road construction at the Marquette Interchange. Note that the freeway is on a high viaduct that carries the North-South Freeway over the Menomonee River. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Perhaps as a result of the Marquette Interchange reconstruction project or possibly due to other issues that may arise during heavy traffic periods, "Alternate Interstate 43" is posted via the Interstate 794 offramp. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
The right lane becomes exit only for Interstate 794 east, while the two middle lanes connect directly onto Interstate 43. Interstate 94 and U.S. 41 connect onto the East-West Freeway via a left exit. On this day, much of the traffic congestion was related to traffic continuing north on Interstate 43. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Still on the viaduct over the Menomonee River, downtown Milwaukee comes into view to the northeast of the North-South Freeway. In the second photo, which shows the view looking due east, the Hoan Bridge (which carries Interstate 794 over a tied arch bridge) can be seen, as well as Lake Michigan. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
The right lane becomes exit only for Interstate 794 east, while the two middle lanes connect directly onto Interstate 43. Interstate 94 and U.S. 41 connect onto the East-West Freeway via a left exit. On this day, much of the traffic congestion was related to traffic continuing north on Interstate 43. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
This elevated ramp acts as the connection between Interstate 43-94/U.S. 41 (North-South Freeway) north and Interstate 794 (East-West Freeway) east. The ramp does not reach ground level; instead, it connects directly onto the Interstate 794 viaduct. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Perspective from Interstate 794 east
Now on mainline Interstate 794 traveling east, the first exits are Exit 1D, Plankinton Avenue; Exit 1E, Jackson Street/Van Buren Street; and Exit 1F, Lakeshore/Lincoln Memorial Drive north (To U.S. 18/Michigan Street and Pier Wisconsin). Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Eastbound Interstate 794 reaches Exit 1D, Plankinton Avenue (signed as "Alternate Interstate 43 north"). Still on an elevated viaduct, the pull through sign announces that Interstate 794 connects to Wisconsin 794/Lake Parkway near the Port of Milwaukee, which is about three miles southeast of here. The next two exits (Exit 1E, Jackson Street/Van Buren Street and Exit 1F, Lakeshore/Lincoln Memorial Drive north [To U.S. 18/Michigan Street and Pier Wisconsin]) are both left exits; through traffic should remain in the right two lanes. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Continuing east, Interstate 794 next reaches the two-lane, left offramp for Exit 1E, Jackson Street/Van Buren Street into downtown Milwaukee. The next offramp serves Exit 1F, Lakeshore/Lincoln Memorial Drive north to U.S. 18/Michigan Street and Pier Wisconsin. through traffic should remain in the right two lanes. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
The elevated Interstate 794 freeway prepares to turn from eastbound to southbound. Use Exit 1F, Lakeshore/Lincoln Memorial Drive north to U.S. 18/Michigan Street and Pier Wisconsin as well as downtown Milwaukee. Through traffic should to the Port of Milwaukee should remain in the right two lanes and prepare to slow down: the curve ahead has a reduced speed zone of 35 miles per hour. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Interstate 794 turns south and immediately gains elevation as it prepares to cross the tied arch Hoan Bridge, which crosses the Milwaukee River near its mouth at Lake Michigan. The Hoan Bridge made the news on December 13, 2000, when a section of the approach to the bridge buckled four feet. As a result, Interstate 794 was closed, and fortunately no one was injured. The bridge was relatively new in terms of anticipated bridge life span (having been completed in 1972). Demolition of the affected segment along with construction of the replacement section occurred during the intervening year, and the bridge was fully reopened on November 1, 2001.1 Please visit Chris Bessert's excellent Hoan Bridge webpage for more information and details on this near-tragedy. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Now reaching the top of the Hoan Bridge, Interstate 794 crosses the Milwaukee River and descends toward its final offramp, Exit 3 (Port of Milwaukee) before the freeway converts into Wisconsin 794/Lake Parkway. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Perspective from Interstate 94 east/U.S. 41 south
This sign is actually found shortly after Exit 301/Waukesha County O/Moorland Road on Interstate 94 eastbound in Brookfield! This sign shows a few points of interest that are directly served by Interstate 794. Notice the "old fashioned" use of "Hwy 794." Photo taken by Chris Lokken and Mike Saldivar (08/13/06).
This is the two-mile guide sign for the Marquette Interchange/Interstate 794's western terminus/Interstate 43. These types of signs are becoming commonplace in the Milwaukee area. This sign is found within Interstate 94's interchange with U.S. 41 near Miller Park. At this point, U.S. 41 southbound traffic has yet to merge in. Photo taken by Chris Lokken and Mike Saldivar (08/13/06).
This mileage sign provides the distance to the next three exits, including the Marquette Interchange with Interstate 43 and Interstate 94. Construction of the Marquette Interchange was completed in August 2008. Photo taken by Chris Lokken (09/21/07).
A downtown exits sign on Interstate 94 east and U.S. 41 south mentions the ramps to Interstate 43 north and Interstate 794 east. This is within the interchange for 26th Street and St. Paul Avenue. Photo taken by Chris Lokken (09/21/07).
This view is found along eastbound Interstate 94 and southbound U.S. 41 (East-West Freeway), 0.75 miles west of Interstate 43/Exit 310B and the western terminus of Interstate 794/Exit 310C. The first sign bridge for the Marquette Interchange in downtown Milwaukee. Note that at the time of the 2006 picture, the ramp to continue on Interstate 94 east/U.S. 41 south was closed. This was due to the Marquette Interchange (M-Change) project. By 2007, the lane allocation had changed dramatically. Photos taken by Chris Lokken (09/21/07) and Chris Lokken and Mike Saldivar (08/13/06).
An auxillary sign for traffic to the Lakefront and the Port of Milwaukee is posted on Interstate 94 east to use Interstate 794 east. Photo taken by Chris Lokken (09/21/07).
A couple auxillary signs are posted for the Marquette Interchange as reconstruction continues. First one is for Interstate 43 northbound traffic to Green Bay to remain in the left lane. The other is pointing out interchanges along Interstate 794. Construction is becoming even more evident in these photos. Photo taken by Chris Lokken and Mike Saldivar (08/13/06).
This diagrammatical guide sign on Interstate 94 eastbound/U.S. 41 southbound described the former lane allocations for the upcoming stack interchange with Interstate 43 and Interstate 794 east. It was removed with the beginning of the Marquette Interchange project. U.S. 41, which follows Interstate 94 from Exit 308 eastward, continues southward with Interstate 43/94 on the North-South Freeway. Interstate 794 continues the eastward push toward the Milwaukee Bayfront before turning southward to join the Lake Parkway (Wisconsin 794). Photo taken by Craig Holl (circa 2000).
Interstate 94 eastbound reaches Exit 310A, 13th Street. Interstate 794 begins over the crest while Interstate 94 turns southward toward Racine, Kenosha, and Chicago. Another sign bridge is present for the Marquette Interchange. As evidenced in the 2007 photo, the interchange was still under construction at that time. Photos taken by Chris Lokken (09/21/07) and Craig Holl (circa 2000).
Interstate 94 turns to the south with Interstate 43. Traffic continuing straight enters Interstate 794 or turns northward on Interstate 43 via Exit 310B. As a result of construction, the ramp to Interstate 43 north now departs from the right side of Interstate 94 east/U.S. 41 south. Ahead, Interstate 94 east/U.S. 41 south split from the East-West Freeway, which picks up Interstate 794. Interstate 43 travels 110 miles northward to Green Bay. Exit 1H of Interstate 794 for the Civic Center and James Lovell Street. Photos taken by Chris Lokken (09/21/07) and Craig Holl (circa 2000).
Interstate 794 and Exit 1H as seen from the departing Interstate 43 northbound ramp/Exit 310B. Interstate 794 travels east to the Lake Michigan shoreline before turning south as the Lake Freeway. After the Marquette Interchange reconstruction, the interchange configuration changed, with a new ramp connection. Photos taken by Chris Lokken (09/21/07) and Craig Holl (circa 2000).
This ramp carries Interstate 94 east and U.S. 41 south from the East-West Freeway to the North-South Freeway. At this point, the mainline only had one through lane ni 2007 but has since widened to two lanes as the interchange project comes to a close. Photo taken by Chris Lokken (09/21/07).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 94 east (south)
Interstate 43 south and Interstate 894 west 6 miles in south Milwaukee, WI
Interstate 294 south 66 miles at Northbrook, IL
Interstate 90
overlap begin
85 miles at Chicago, IL
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 43 south
Interstate 94
overlap end
Interstate 894
overlap begin
6 miles in south Milwaukee, WI
Interstate 894
overlap end
12 miles at Greenfield, WI
Interstate 39/Interstate 90 73 miles at Beloit, WI
Eastern/Southern Terminus - Wisconsin 794 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Perspective from Interstate 794 east
At the top of the Hoan Bridge traveling south along Interstate 794, drivers are afforded this majestic view of Lake Michigan. On this warm, late summer day, sailboats were out on the lake, and beachgoers clamored along the myriad parks located along Milwaukee's shoreline. Interstate 794 prepares to shift from a viaduct into Wisconsin 794/Lake Parkway. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
The final exit along southbound (eastbound) Interstate 794 is Exit 3, the Port of Milwaukee. Use this exit to connect to the ferry across Lake Michigan to Muskegon, Michigan. Note the overhead sign, which states that the freeway ends in one mile. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
The pull-through sign for Interstate 794 south/east changes to Wisconsin 794/Lake Parkway south as the freeway approaches Exit 3, Port of Milwaukee. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
A Virginia-style backplated "Interstate 794 ends" shield is displayed within the median of the freeway at the onset of Exit 3 for the Port of Milwaukee. As the signage in the background indicates, Interstate 794 transitions into the Lake Parkway/Wisconsin 794 south. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (11/06/05).
Southbound Interstate 794 reaches Exit 3, Port of Milwaukee, and the freeway changes into Wisconsin 794/Lake Parkway. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
After Exit 3, the freeway comes off the viaduct and becomes a surface parkway. Note the removal of most Interstate-standard features, including reduced shoulders and a lower median barrier. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
The first junction along southbound Wisconsin 794 is Oklahoma Avenue. The junction is an intersection, not an interchange. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Southbound Wisconsin 794 reaches Oklahoma Avenue; the freeway ends here, and the rest of the route is a surface boulevard. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Perspective from Wisconsin 794 (Lake Parkway) north
Lake Parkway/Wisconsin 794 leaves the city of St. Francis and enters the city of Milwaukee north of General Mitchell International Airport. The state highway is an expressway through St. Francis, and it remains that way upon entering the city of Milwaukee. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (11/06/05).
This is the first northbound Wisconsin 794 reassurance shield within the city of Milwaukee. Note how the route was constructed, as it is generally below grade and built on a narrow right of way. While the shoulders are substandard for an Interstate highway, the landscaped median helps give the roadway a parkway feel. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (11/06/05).
Continuing north, Wisconsin 794 passes Oklahoma Avenue; the freeway begins after the Oklahoma Avenue intersection. This reassurance shield is the final one posted along northbound Wisconsin 794. Note the signage for the next junction: the Port of Milwaukee, which is the final exit on northbound Wisconsin 794 before the Hoan Bridge -- and Interstate 794 -- begin. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Use Exit 3 (Port of Milwaukee) to connect to the Car Ferry across Lake Michigan to Muskegon, Michigan. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Northbound Wisconsin 794 reaches Exit 3 (Port of Milwaukee); the pull through sign shows that Wisconsin 794 is about to convert into Interstate 794. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
After the Port of Milwaukee offramp, this mileage sign provides the distance to the next three exits: Exit 1F, Michigan Street (to U.S. 18); Exit 1E, Milwaukee Street (downtown connector); and the Marquette Interchange (Exits 1A-B-C, Junction Interstate 43, Interstate 94, and U.S. 41). Note the first Interstate 794 reassurance shield posted immediately after the mileage sign. The Hoan Bridge, a tied arch bridge, is visible in the distance. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Immediately after the first Interstate 794 westbound shield, this shield assembly indicates that Wisconsin 794 comes to an end here. Note that the "END Interstate 794 is posted on behind this shield in the other direction. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Perspective from Interstate 794 west (north)
This pull through sign identifies Interstate 794 as the route to Interstate 43, Interstate 94, and U.S. 41. The freeway ascends to the height of the Hoan Bridge, the superstructure of which is visible in the distance. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
Interstate 794 is built entirely on raised viaduct, the high point of which is the Hoan Bridge over the Milwaukee River. Lake Michigan sparkles to the east, while the tall spires of downtown Milwaukee rise to the north. Interstate 794 will make a course correction west in order to avoid downtown's skyscrapers. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).
After descending from the Hoan Bridge, Interstate 794 makes the aforementioned "course correction" at Exit 1F, Michigan Street, an east-west route that is signed as U.S. 18. The eastern terminus of U.S. 18 is located at the bottom of this offramp. Interstate 794 now turns from northbound to westbound. Photo taken by AARoads (09/02/05).

Sources:

  1. According to Chris Bessert, the mileage for Interstate 794 is 4.12 miles based on official Wisconsin Department of Transportation records. Please visit his excellent webpage for much more information about Interstate 794, including the Hoan Bridge.
  2. Three Digit Interstates: Interstate 794 (Scott Oglesby/Kurumi.com)
  3. Documentation of the below grade sections of Wisconsin 794 within the city of Milwaukee provided by Jeff Royston.
  4. Wisconsin Highways: Highways 400-894 (Chris Bessert).

Page Updated August 8, 2008.

 
Mileage

State Wisconsin
Mileage 3.75 1
Cities Milwaukee
Junctions Interstate 43/Interstate 94
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
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