Evers cuts ribbon as work nears end on I-39/90 expansion

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, surrounded by local officials, cuts a ribbon to mark the near completion of construction on Interstates 39 and 90 in Dane and Rock counties.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, surrounded by local officials, cuts a ribbon to mark the near completion of construction on Interstates 39 and 90 in Dane and Rock counties. Construction began in 2015. WISC-TV/Channel3000.

JANESVILLE, Wis. — After more than six years of construction, Wisconsin officials on Wednesday celebrated the near completion of work to expand Interstate 39/90 in Dane and Rock counties to six or more lanes.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, surrounded by local officials, cut a ribbon for the project at the Janesville Park and Ride lot along the highway Wednesday afternoon.

Construction to widen the 45-mile stretch of road from the Madison Beltline to the Wisconsin/Illinois state line began in 2015. The state’s Department of Transportation said work in Beloit is set to wrap up early next month, with the project coming in on time and under budget.

As part of the project, workers reconfigured 11 interchanges, including three new diverging diamond interchanges, which see drivers briefly switch sides of the road and are billed as increasing safety for drivers making left turns. The first diverging diamond in the state opened at the Avalon Road interchange in 2016.

Also included were new, taller bridges over the Rock River, flyover ramps between I-39/90 and I-43 in Beloit and new park and ride lots in Janesville and Edgerton.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dan Cunningham, the vice president of Forward Janesville, recalled the push to expand the highway as a way to boost the local economy after General Motors closed its plant in Janesville in 2008.

A group of stakeholders got together after GM stopped production at the plant to come up with ways to stimulate economic growth. The interstate expansion was at the top of the list, he said.

“This has long been the backbone of south-central Wisconsin’s economy,” Cunningham said.

Before work got underway, Cunningham said the highway’s pavement was substandard and some interchanges were “downright scary.”

Now, officials said the road, which serves as a gateway to the Badger State for travelers from Illinois, is something the state can be proud of.

“This was never just a Janesville project or a Rock County project; it was really a Wisconsin project,” Cunningham said.

RELATED: Roads, bridges in Dane County to get overhaul with federal infrastructure funding

Evers, who described the route as “the major gateway for Wisconsin,” said the project is an investment in the quality of life for Wisconsinites.

“Our new and improved gateway to Wisconsin enhances safety for the public and will attract major employers to the area and provide new opportunities for growth and tourism and businesses,” he said.

For a full overview of the work, visit WisDOT’s website for the project.