We appreciate you joining us virtually to learn more about and provide your feedback on the Wisconsin’s draft State Freight Plan.
We're updating Wisconsin's State Freight Plan, which is a long-range multimodal plan that addresses the state's freight transportation needs and provides a vision for WisDOT’s freight program for the next eight years! It’s important that we update this plan regularly so that it accurately reflects, considers, and addresses our state’s current and future freight needs.
Spend a few minutes clicking through the slides to read more about WisDOT’s family of plans, learn about the State Freight Plan update and Wisconsin’s freight system, and review the draft plan. Don’t forget to take our survey to tell us your thoughts!
Planning NOW for the future of transportation in Wisconsin
Let’s start off with some background information on Wisconsin’s family of transportation plans. Connect 2050, which is WisDOT’s statewide, multimodal, long-range plan, provides what should be accomplished and the State Freight Plan will identify the how!
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.
Connect 2050 is a vision plan, setting an overall direction for our transportation system and establishing goals and objectives based on transportation-related issues and trends, and comments from people like you! Unlike a transportation project that is happening now or in the near future, Connect 2050 affects decisions about plans and projects that will be completed and funded years from now.
Wisconsin's Transportation System
WisDOT plans, builds, maintains, and/or financially supports all these types of transportation, which make up our statewide network. The Connect 2050 plan's goals and objectives apply to all the modes listed below.
- Ports, Harbors and Ferries
- Bicycles and Pedestrians
- Passenger Rail
- Freight Rail
- Intercity Passenger Bus
State Freight Plan
About the Plan
Our first State Freight Plan was adopted in 2018! It’s important for us to continuously update this plan every four years so that it accurately reflects, considers, and addresses our state’s current and future freight needs — and to meet federal requirements.
The State Freight Plan update that you’re learning about today will continue to focus on the needs of state highways and local roads, freight rail, aviation, harbors, and intermodal connections.
Our findings will help WisDOT integrate freight improvements in future construction projects and prioritize future freight-related projects for funding. These future investments will position Wisconsin to remain competitive in the global marketplace.
The Plan Will...
- Include new and updated information since the previous State Freight Plan was released, including an overview of the current multimodal freight system
- Assess statewide freight needs and issues through data analysis and stakeholder engagement
- Guide statewide investments to improve the multimodal freight system, including roadways and roadside facilities, railroads, regional airports, ports and pipelines
- Engage and reflect the interests of a wide array of freight stakeholders
- Align policies and recommendations with Connect 2050, Wisconsin’s statewide long-range transportation plan
Winter - Spring 2022
- Review 2018 Freight Plan
- Identify areas of previous plan that need to be updated
- Begin developing draft State Freight Plan
- Continue data gathering
- Engage Stakeholders
- Engage stakeholders
- Incorporate stakeholder feedback into draft plan
- Engage stakeholders
- Incorporate stakeholder feedback into draft plan
- Release final draft plan
- Incorporate stakeholder feedback into final draft plan
- Finalize plan
- Submit plan to U.S. DOT
Draft State Freight Plan Outline
The information below outlines what’s included in the draft plan! Click each drop down on this page to learn about what’s included in the State Freight Plan. If you would prefer to not read more about each section and just provide your feedback, skip ahead to the last slide.
+ Section 1: Introduction
- Vision, Goals, Strategies
- Link to National Freight Goals
- Relationship to Wisconsin Family of Plans
+ Section 2: Stakeholder Outreach
- Wisconsin's Freight Stakeholders
- Plan Engagement Process and Phases
- Ongoing Stakeholder Engagement
+ Section 3: Freight System Assets, Conditions, and Performance
- Modal Freight Flows
- Transportation System Assets, Condition, Performance, and Safety
- National Freight Networks in Wisconsin
- Modal Snapshots
+ Section 4: Modal Freight Forecasts
- Freight Rail
- Air Cargo
+ Section 5: Economic Context of Freight
- Wisconsin’s Economy
- Freight-Related Industries and Employment
- Connection to Global Economy
+ Section 6: Freight Trends and Challenges
- COVID-19 Supply Chain Disruptions
- Other Supply Chain Disruptions
- Changing Freight Infrastructure and Operations
- International Trade and Tariffs
- Demographic Trends
- Emerging Technologies
- Modal Trends and Challenges
+ Section 7: Freight Policies and Strategies
- Freight Policies (All Modes)
- Freight Policies (Highways & Local Roads)
- Freight Policies (Rail)
- Freight Policies (Maritime)
- Freight Policies (Air)
- Freight Policies (Pipeline)
- Freight Policies (Other)
- Freight Policies (Environmental)
+ Section 8: Freight System Needs
- Ports and Waterways
- Air Cargo
+ Section 9: Investment Implementation Plan
- Freight Project Funding
- Prioritization of Freight Strategies and Projects
- Freight Plan Implementation Steps
+ Supporting Documentation
- Freight Investments
- Freight Plan Outreach
- Equity Analysis
Section 1: Introduction
Wisconsin’s quality of life and economic growth depends on a safe, efficient, and coordinated multimodal freight transportation system that provides choices for the movement of goods to, from and within the state. The transport of goods and services is critical to the economy. Investments in highways, railroads, airports, waterways, and pipelines secure and strengthen Wisconsin’s economic vitality. As you learned earlier, our State Freight Plan is one of seven plans that falls under Wisconsin’s Connect 2050. Connect 2050 is the statewide, multimodal, long-range plan that facilitates decision-making for improvements to and investments in all types of transportation throughout Wisconsin from now to 2050.
Our vision for the State Freight Plan is carried over from the 2018 freight plan:
WisDOT envisions a multimodal freight transportation system that enhances the state’s economic productivity, competitiveness, and quality of life through the movement of goods safely, reliably, and efficiently, while minimizing impacts to the natural environment.
The foundational goals developed to support WisDOT’s vision for the multimodal freight transportation system were adapted from Connect 2050, which is WisDOT’s statewide, multimodal, long-range plan. These goals form the basis for policy and other strategy recommendations contained in the State Freight Plan.
The State Freight Plan goals are as follows:
- Enhance Safety, Security, and Resiliency
- Ensure System Preservation and Enhancement
- Enhance System Mobility, Operations, Reliability, Efficiency, and Connectivity
In support of these goals, WisDOT developed the following strategic approaches to guide policy development:
- Position WisDOT to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of freight - provide convenient and accessible avenues to receive and address stakeholder concerns, challenges, and emerging trends to enable the safe and efficient movement of freight.
- Integrate freight data and information into WisDOT investment decisions - integrate freight data and stakeholder input into WisDOT’s planning, policies, programming, and operational decisions.
- Promote statewide multimodal freight access and connection - promote adequate rural and urban access to regional and national markets and enable multimodal connections to freight facilities and services.
Link to National Freight Goals
The State Freight Plan improves Wisconsin’s ability to meet the national freight policy goals. These include: addressing bottlenecks, reducing congestion, and increasing overall resiliency to reduce recovery time after incidents. It will also identify the state’s critical multimodal freight facilities and help to facilitate freight coordination between states through Wisconsin’s membership in multi-state organizations such as the Mid-America Freight Coalition (MAFC). You can read more about these national goals in our draft State Freight Plan.
Section 2: Stakeholder Outreach
Throughout the plan development process, there were various opportunities for stakeholders to provide their perspectives on Wisconsin's freight system, including any issues, needs, concerns, and ideas for improving the freight system.
- Federal Organizations such as Federal Highway Administration
- Wisconsin Freight Advisory Committee
- Wisconsin state government organizations such as Office of the Governor; State Legislature; Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection; Department of Natural Resources; Office of the Commissioner of Railroads; Public Service Commission; and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
- Regional and Local Partners such as tribal nations and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs).
- Local Government from counties, cities, villages, and towns.
- Private sector transportation firms including shippers, carriers, and third-party firms
- Stakeholder partners such as businesses, trade associations, chambers of commerce
- Multi-State Freight organizations such as Mid-America Freight Coalition and the Great Lakes Regional Transportation Operations Coalition
Did you know?
This is You!
There are several ways for the public to provide feedback, including this online open house, a robust plan website, and interactive surveys.
Section 3: Freight System Assets, Conditions, and Performance
Wisconsin’s multimodal transportation system carries both people and goods from their origin to their destination. WisDOT, as a steward of that system, coordinates investments in the critical infrastructure needed to support and enhance the state’s economy. These efforts facilitate the safe and efficient movement of goods on the state’s roadways, railways, waterways, airports, pipelines, and through intermodal facilities.
Did you know?
- By weight, 64% of Wisconsin freight is handled by trucks and 32% is handled by rail. The remaining 4% is handled by a mix of water, air, and intermodal service.
- For 2022, the Wisconsin freight system is expected to handle approximately 661 million tons of freight, valued at $581 billion.
- Wisconsin’s most shipped commodities by tonnage include gravel or sand, grain, and broken stone or riprap.
Our Freight System
Explore snapshot statistics below for the major freight options in Wisconsin: highways, roads, railroads, waterways and air cargo
Section 4: Modal Freight Forecasts
To meet the freight transportation needs of tomorrow, WisDOT needs to begin preparing today. This section outlines the estimated growth in freight tonnage and value by mode transported from, to, within, and through Wisconsin for target years 2030 and 2050.
These two graphics provide estimates respectively for tonnage and value of freight shipments by mode for 2022, and forecasts for 2030 and 2050.
- Overall, tonnage across all modes is expected to increase from 661 million tons in 2022 to 762 million tons in 2030 and 1.1 billion tons in 2050. That’s an increase of 15.3 percent and 64.3 percent
- Freight shipments value across all modes are predicted to increase as well from $581 billion in 2022 to approximately $704 billion in 2030 and $1.1 trillion in 2050. That’s an increase of 21.2 percent and 96.5 percent.
Explore the forecasts for different transportation modes.
+ Highway Freight Forecasts
WisDOT prepares forecasts of roadway traffic volumes to project what might happen 20 to 30 years in the future. Although freight shipments by truck form the highest tonnage and value shipments across all modes, the current forecast estimates show a slower growth compared to other modes, with an increase of 12.4 percent by 2030 and 50.5 percent by 2050 for tonnage, and an increase of 18.2 percent by 2030 and 79.4 percent by 2050 by value. Wisconsin highways are still expected to carry almost 632 million tons of freight by 2050, valued at approximately $699 billion.
+ Rail Freight Forecasts
Overall railroad tonnage is predicted to increase by 96.1 percent statewide between 2022 and 2050. In addition, the value of this tonnage in 2050 is expected to more than double the value in 2022 (133.7 percent increase). Wisconsin rail lines are expected to carry 416 million tons of railroad cargo, valued at more than $411 billion, in 2050.
+ Water Freight Forecasts
Overall water freight tonnage and value are expected to increase by 30.6 and 43.7 percent, respectively, between 2022 and 2050. These numbers represent the lowest expected growth across all freight modes in Wisconsin. In 2050, it is predicted that water freight will handle 3.4 percent of freight tonnage and less than one percent of freight value in Wisconsin.
+ Air Cargo Forecasts
While air cargo movement represents a relatively small percentage by volume of overall trade, relatively low-weight, time-sensitive, and high-value freight is important to Wisconsin’s economy. The forecast increase in air freight movement reflects a continuing business trend toward adopting just-in-time logistics practices where production flexibility and delivery speed are essential. Shipping via air can mean more quick and reliable business over long distances.
The total air tonnage is forecast to increase by 83.5 percent statewide between 2022 and 2050. The value of this tonnage is expected to increase by 123.9 percent. Airports are forecast to ship or receive more than 209 thousand tons of air freight, valued at more than $26 billion, in 2050.
+ Pipeline Forecasts
Pipeline infrastructure and data are owned and maintained by private entities, and heightened security has resulted in pipeline-related data being highly inaccessible to the general public. Therefore, accurate forecasts are not publicly available.
Section 5: Economic Context of Freight
Businesses in Wisconsin use the transportation system to produce goods and transport them to market. A safe and efficient transportation system is vital to Wisconsin’s economy and ability to remain competitive in attracting businesses to Wisconsin.
Explore economic factors impacting Wisconsin freight
+ Wisconsin's Economy
Wisconsin has the smallest economy in the Great Lakes Regions (Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio) accounting for 12 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) among the five states that make up the region. According to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Wisconsin’s total GDP was $365.9 billion in 2021, which is about 1.6 percent of GDP nationwide. This puts Wisconsin at a ranking of 21st by state.
+ Freight-Related Industries and Employment
There are six prominent employment sectors that rely heavily on Wisconsin’s freight transportation system:
- Wholesale and Retail Trade
- Transportation, Information, and Utilities/Energy
- Agriculture, Forestry, and Hunting
These sectors account for 43% of Wisconsin’s total employment, slightly more than the national average, and are expected to grow. An efficient transportation system is paramount to the continued growth and success of these primary employment sectors and Wisconsin’s overall economy.
|Freight-Dependent Sector||Average Monthly Employment||% of Total WI Employment||GDP (Current Billion USD)||% of Total WI GDP|
|Wholesale and Retail Trade||415,672||14.9%||$44.44||12.14%|
|Transportation, Information & Utilities / Energy||161,385||5.8%||$33.65||9.20%|
|Agriculture and Forestry, Fishing and Hunting, and Mining||30,922||1.10%||$6.23||1.70%|
|Total Freight-Dependent Sectors||1,228,520||42.9%||$165.54||45.2%|
+ Connection to the Global Economy
Wisconsin’s transportation system is part of larger regional, national, and continental networks used by companies to transport goods across North America. The growth in production, distribution, and consumption around the world has required the transportation sector to adapt to longer and more complex supply chains. Multiple modes of transportation are regularly required for products or material to reach their destination.
Did you know?
Refer to the State Freight Plan to learn more about global exports and imports.
Section 6: Freight Trends and Challenges
Numerous major trends and challenges impact freight flow volume, routing, and the economic value of the commodities shipped in Wisconsin over the near- and long-term. Freight trends are discussed through the lenses of global, national, and state level impacts.
Explore the Freight Trends that are interesting to you:
+ Supply Chain Disruptions
The COVID-19 pandemic created massive disruptions to freight and supply chain movement. Both passenger and commercial vehicles saw a reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2019 and 2020. While VMT for passenger vehicles has not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, commercial vehicle volumes are exceeding pre-pandemic levels. The following are many of the challenges imposed on the global, national, and state supply chains since the onset of the pandemic:
- Workforce staffing issues
- Slower freight velocity
- Increased consumer demand
- Equipment availability and capacity
- Production interruptions
- Shipping costs
Global supply chains suffered additional disruptions from extreme-weather related events and operations impacts. These disruptions created a ripple-effect throughout the supply chain impacting both shipping costs and delivery time:
- Suez Canal Blockage
- British Columbia Wildfires in 2021
- Historic flooding in the US and Canada
- Significant winter storms
+ Changing Freight Infrastructure and Operations
Freight infrastructure has changed over the past few decades with global supply chain trending towards larger facilities and equipment to store and transport freight and consolidation of freight transportation providers.
- Vessel Size Increases
- Panama Canal Expansion
- North American Port Expansions
- Longer Trains
- Inland/Dry Ports
+ International Trade and Tariffs
Regulations on goods traded internationally directly impact the cost effectiveness of freight shipments. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has a direct impact on Wisconsin.
In 2018 a trade war between the United States and China resulted in increased tariffs on goods traded between the two countries. As of June 2022, 66.4 percent of Chinese exports ($335 billion in 2017 trade) are subject to U.S. tariffs; 58.3 percent of U.S. exports ($90 billion in 2017 trade) are subject to Chinese tariffs. Elevated tariffs are likely to continue, imposing higher costs on Wisconsin consumers.
For the past few decades, the offshoring of goods production to overseas markets such as China has been a common trend. However, recently, some of these operations have seen a reverse—or modification—of this trend. Nearshoring refers to the relocation of production to markets closer to the final point of use, for example, shifting production from China to Mexico. Reshoring refers to the relocation of production back to the home country. In addition to these trends, some offshore production is also relocating to Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
E-Commerce has grown rapidly across the country, now accounting for 15 percent of all retail sales in the US.
Freight distribution is shifting towards more point-to-point shipments from warehouses to homes, creating more short trips in urban areas via parcel trucks. To accommodate increasing consumer demands for quicker product delivery, large regional distribution centers are supplying smaller “fulfillment centers” that are located within major metropolitan areas. This has been reflected in Wisconsin through the recent construction of multiple distribution centers.
With the continued growth of e-commerce and demand for quick product delivery, reliable transportation corridors will be vital for Wisconsin’ economic growth.
+ Demographic Trends
Wisconsin’s population has grown from 5.7 million in 2010 to 5.9 million in 2020. Population growth has been concentrated in urban and suburban areas while rural areas are experiencing population decline. This growth in urban areas could place challenges on transportation systems as more Wisconsinites driver further to get to jobs. It is expected Wisconsin’s population will grow an additional 10 percent by 2040.
Explore the demographic maps below. Click each thumbnail to view a larger image.
Wisconsin Multimodal Freight System
Hispanic or Latino Population
American Indian or Alaska Native Population
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Island Population
Other Race Population
Two or More Races Population
Population in Poverty
+ Emerging Technologies
Multiple innovative freight technologies are emerging and are expected to have an impact on the transportation of goods.
+ Electrification and Alternative Fuels
Commercial vehicles have used a wide variety of alternative fuels to diesel, including biodiesel, renewable diesel (derived from algae), liquefied natural gas (LNG), compressed natural gas (CNG), and hydrogen. Alternative fuels have been tested and adopted in part by fleet operators such as UPS and Waste Management, with incentives offered through the U.S. Department of Energy.
Did you know? Industry analysts are predicting electrification will make strong inroads into the commercial vehicle center. A report in March 2022 forecast medium-and heavy-duty commercial vehicles would see 24 percent market demand for all-electric vehicles by 2030, and 53 percent by 2035.
Wisconsin is expected to receive $78.65 million over the five-year life of the program for the construction of charging stations and other EV infrastructure. These funds are part of a new program called the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program (NEVI). Learn more about EV’s in Wisconsin.
+ Communications Technology
Communication technology continues to evolve and be applied to all aspects of truck freight movement, from the cab to the trailer.
- Point-of-purchase information will have a greater role in driving warehouse orders and just-in-time delivery demands.
- Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging will increasingly be adopted to improve shipment tracking.
- Warehouse management systems will allow real-time awareness of inventory location, including items in transit.
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems will become more and more sophisticated and integrated across larger supply chains.
+ Connected and Automated Vehicles
Connected and automated vehicles are expected to have a wide-ranging impact on Wisconsin. The technology could take a variety of forms that improve transportation safety, reliability and efficiency in Wisconsin. Wisconsin DOT has formed an advisory committee to gather stakeholder input and prepare for the impact of CAV in Wisconsin.
+ Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
Unmanned aircraft systems are increasing in commercial use and are expected to continue increasing in the coming years. Increased use of this technology could influence the facilities and services needed at airports in the future.
+ Modal Trends and Challenges
The following are some of the more-common emerging trends and challenges impacting different freight modes including highway, freight rail, ports and waterways, air cargo, pipeline and intermodal.
- Truck parking capacity
- Hours of service and electronic logging devices
- Equipment changes
- Increased vehicle weight and configurations
- Truck driver shortage
+ Freight Rail
- Freight rail capital investments
- Regional freight rail shipping patterns
- Precision scheduled railroading and limited freight rail access
+ Ports and Waterways
- Energy transport via waterway
- OSOW freight
- Load line exemptions and safe harbor distance
- Soo Lock System expansion
+ Air Cargo
- Modal diversion of packages to trucks
- Reduced mail volumes via air
- Limited air cargo growth in Wisconsin
- Air cargo regulations
- Pipeline maintenance, replacement and decommissioning
- Impacts to other freight modes
- Petroleum market volatility
- Transload of ocean containers
- Temperature-controlled intermodal service
Section 7: Freight Policies and Strategies
The policies presented below were developed to align with the Connect 2050 Long-Range Transportation Plan and include stakeholder feedback from the Wisconsin Freight Advisory Committee. The policies and strategies address highways, local roads, railroads, ports and waterways, air, and pipelines.
+ All Modes Policies
- Enhance security of the transportation system by reducing vulnerability.
- Partner with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, environmental agencies, consumers and businesses to increase transportation sustainability.
- Continue to support Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Regional Planning Commissions, and local partners in the implementation and execution of their freight policy.
- Leverage the data, tools, and methods developed through the freight plan to help deliver SFP policies and strategies and inform project prioritization and investment decisions, as well as provide the data and tools to DOT partners as able.
+ Highway & Local Roads
- Improve standards for infrastructure
- Continue to work with other states and local communities to identify oversize-overweight harmonization opportunities.
- Investigate ways to simplify, streamline, and provide more permitting options.
- Implement cost-effective maintenance activities on Wisconsin’s state trunk highway infrastructure.
- Preserve Wisconsin’s state trunk highway system infrastructure.
- Preserve the local road and bridge system.
- Complete currently enumerated Major Highway Development projects.
- Complete currently enumerated Southeast Wisconsin Freeway Megaprojects Program.
- Complete corridor studies approved by the Transportation Projects Commission.
- Improve the reliability and efficiency of state trunk highway operations.
- Optimize traffic movement on the state trunk highway system by utilizing tools to improve existing capacity and, where necessary, adding capacity.
- Manage access on Wisconsin’s state trunk highway system
- Plan and prepare for WisDOT’s prompt and consistent response to incidents.
- Continue using a performance-based approach to identify state trunk highway system preservation needs, including development of a bridge asset management system.
- Refine and expand a state-of-the-art process for prioritizing needs and identifying cost-effective state trunk highway system preservation needs.
- As needed, revise the Facilities Development Manual (FDM) to more clearly include freight considerations in its project development guidance.
- Preserve a sub-system of Wisconsin’s State Highways that accommodate over-height loads (up to 20 feet), over-weight and oversize loads.
- Monitor state trunk highway conditions in support of a formal, ongoing preventive maintenance process.
- Implement proven maintenance management practices.
- Improve the department’s existing maintenance management tools.
- Implement work zone and lane-closure management strategies and tools to maintain safety and minimize impacts on travelers.
- Continually monitor the state trunk highway network and respond to operational needs.
- Improve motor carrier efficiency.
- Explore approaches to improve motor carrier enforcement.
- Support communications along state highway corridors of freight significance to ensure drivers can remain informed of changing conditions.
- Support greater use of technologies to improve the safety and efficiency of operations along corridors with high freight movement frequencies
- Support an increase in the availability of truck parking and related infrastructure at state-owned facilities and raise the awareness of its availability.
- Identify freight-specific safety concerns and development strategies for solutions.
- Assist in providing asset management strategies and tools for local governments to ensure that selected system preservation improvements provide cost-effective service life extension.
- Work with local entities to identify and address key safety issues on the local system.
- Partner with local governments to manage and invest in the local road and bridge network.
- Continue to support the existence of locally-organized, locally-staffed Rail Transit Commissions.
- Continue state assistance programs for rail improvements.
- Investigate new policies and new financing strategies for projects that improve freight service.
- Work with railroads to ensure that appropriate rail service will be provided to all shippers statewide.
- Continue to monitor changes in international trade flows and work with communities that are impacted by dramatic changes in train frequencies.
- Address rail crossing safety for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
- Work with partners and stakeholders to ensure the safety and security of the rail transportation system.
- WisDOT will continue to work with different stakeholders following the conclusion of the FAC’s Intermodal Subcommittee.
- Continue to support shipper access to the rail service network.
- Continue to monitor Chicago’s effect on Wisconsin’s freight service.
- Monitor for the potential changes widely-adopted CAV truck platooning could have on the economics of certain types of freight movements in the state and nationally.
- Preserve rail corridors, including rights-of-way, for transportation use through public ownership where appropriate.
- Preserve Wisconsin’s branch and short line network.
- Continue state assistance programs for harbor and waterway improvements which are all critical to Wisconsin’s transportation system.
- Advocate for federal funding for navigation and environmental improvements for the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois River Waterway and improvements to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System.
- Encourage comprehensive harbor and waterfront land use planning.
- Examine and address roadway issues at ports.
- Continue to coordinate with state, regional, and international partners, as well as explore the development of a maritime strategy for Wisconsin, to support maritime transportation as part of a safe, efficient, and seamless freight transportation system.
- Preserve Wisconsin’s airport system infrastructure to aid economic growth.
- Address airport system needs through the Airport Improvement Program, coordination with owners and operators, and State Airport System Plan update efforts.
- Apply the Utility Accommodation Policy to all types of pipelines In Wisconsin.
- Monitor trends in crude oil movements and their impact on other transportation users.
- Coordinate with natural gas pipeline construction and participate in emergency response.
- Enable modal connections, diversity and provide system resiliency for petroleum product pipelines.
- Retain a freight focus within WisDOT to understand freight needs across the state and to integrate freight transportation policies into department planning and investment decision-making processes.
- Retain the role of facilitator and advocate for freight between public and private interests.
- Collect and analyze data to support freight planning.
- Support Wisconsin communities and businesses by providing transportation-related grant and loan assistance.
- Continue convening WisDOT’s Freight Advisory Committee and seeking stakeholder involvement.
- Use Performance Measures to Monitor the Freight System.
- Coordinate with Public and Private Sector Freight Stakeholders.
- Serve as a resource for freight information
- Monitor national best practices and other initiatives related to reducing freight’s impact on the environment.
- Incorporate environmental justice in all planning, programming, and project decisions and activities.
- Comply with federal and state environmental laws, regulations, and executive orders relevant to transportation and support future standards and programs.
- Support and fulfill the cooperative agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and WisDOT, and other current and future interagency agreements.
- Monitor state and national efforts and be prepared to address potential future greenhouse gas regulations, pursuant to changes in regulation.
- WisDOT will balance transportation needs with the department’s environmental responsibilities by avoiding, minimizing, or compensating impacts to the natural and human environment.
Section 8: Freight System Needs
To help Wisconsin develop a transportation system prepared for the future, it is important to assess needs for freight movement based on current and future freight demands across all transportation modes.
Explore future and current freight system needs based on the different modes of transportation:
Freight shippers and receivers rely primarily on trucks using the state’s highway system. WisDOT has spent the past 10 years improving roadway conditions for passengers and freight alike by improving bridge structures, pavement conditions, operations, and capacity.
The top 25 truck bottleneck locations in Wisconsin are located along major freight routes. Seventeen of these congestion points are in Milwaukee County. Due to the freight movement inefficiencies posed by bottlenecks and the associated costs of delay to the economy, the need to improve truck bottlenecks has impacts on statewide prosperity and the environment. Resolving existing bottlenecks is a priority and will require a combination of capacity, operational, and maintenance improvements.
As more freight is moved along Wisconsin’s highways, improving the efficiency and reliability of the highway system will have growing importance.
Wisconsin’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan acknowledges the need for improved safety for large trucks and provides an overview of activities to support this goal. The overarching freight safety needs identified through the analysis within this plan include:
- Improve truck safety through inspections and enforcement
- Increase the availability of truck parking
- Reduce the number of weight restricted bridges, particularly on secondary roads
- Increase safety at railway-highway grade crossings
- Improve incident management through better coordination and decision-making
New and Emerging Truck/Roadway Technologies
New and emerging technologies could significantly improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the highway freight network. There are several technologies that show promise in addressing these needs, but the level of acceptance and adoption is currently unknown. WisDOT will develop strategies to outline its role in this landscape related to:
- Autonomous trucks and truck platooning
- Truck electrification
- E-Commerce deliveries
- Environmental regulations/concerns
- Economic and financial implications
Wisconsin’s freight rail needs have changed resulting primarily from decreases in rail commodities and significant changes in departure schedules and delivery methods. These changes have presented new challenges that need to be addressed going forward:
- Ensuring local business access, especially in smaller communities
- Improving at-grade crossing safety
- Increasing vertical and horizontal clearances, where warranted
- Addressing rail line and bridge weight restrictions
- Resolving bottlenecks
+ Ports and Waterways
The Great Lakes and M-35 Marine Highway corridor system and ports provide an important resource in Wisconsin’s integrated, multimodal transportation system. To ensure it remains a vital part of this network, locks, dams, and ports must be maintained and prepared for future growth.
- Ongoing maintenance and increased lock and dam capacity
- Decreased environmental footprint of marine shipping
- Increased adoption of technology for more transparent tracking of shipments
- Improved inland access to maritime port terminals
- Carrier/terminal operator assistance in transitioning from coal shipping to other commodities
+ Air Cargo
Emerging technologies for regional and local deliveries by air present unique opportunities to improve package delivery in Wisconsin but might also require improving connections between urban and rural air cargo facilities, assessing the ability of air cargo facilities to accommodate changes and reviewing state regulations as it relates to air cargo delivery.
Section 9: Project Prioritization and Implementation Plan
This section provides a brief overview of the prioritization process and the implementation strategies WisDOT will use to carry out its vision and goals for this project. Once you’re done reading this section, click to the next slide to see where we plan on spending our funding!
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s annual budget is set biennially through the State of Wisconsin’s budget process. The funding Wisconsin’s transportation system comes from several sources:
Federal funding: Federal funding is based on formula and discretionary funding programs and ‘other funds’ like program and local revenue. Federal funds make up over a quarter (25.5 percent) or over $1.82 billion of the state’s overall transportation dollars. These funds are governed by federal reauthorization legislation.
State Transportation funding: State transportation revenues largely consist of motor fuel taxes, vehicle registration/title fees, and driver license fees.
Bonding: Wisconsin uses two types of bonds to fund transportation projects, General obligation bonds help finance highway construction, harbor and railroad projects, and other highway rehabilitation projects. These bonds are repaid from the transportation fund or the state’s general fund. Transportation revenue bonds are those that are repaid from specific, pledged transportation fund revenue sources and are typically used to pay for a portion of Major Highway Projects and Southeast Wisconsin megaprojects. All vehicle-related registration and titling fees have been pledged for transportation bond revenue debt service since 2004.
WisDOT’s prioritization process provides decision-makers with the necessary information to strategically select projects for funding that meet the goals defined in Chapter 1 and help enhance freight mobility throughout Wisconsin. The prioritization process provides a methodology for WisDOT to evaluate projects with varying needs and thereby identify projects that provide the greatest benefit for freight mobility.
- Prioritize freight-related projects to maintain reliability, safety, mobility, and capacity.
- Prioritize freight-related projects that will provide a high return-on-investment.
- Support opportunities on a local level for freight mobility improvements including mode choice, truck bypasses, routes used for delivery, etc.
- Support potential new intermodal connections. Support planning level intermodal studies.
- Assess and potentially evaluate gaps (first and last miles) between manufacturing and shipping facilities and near multimodal centers.
Freight Implementation Plan
Freight plan implementation will be focused on several key areas:
- Support WisDOT’s overarching freight priorities for the transportation system through 2050.
- Implement mode-specific freight policies and strategies.
- Use performance measures to monitor the freight system.
- Use data and tools to deliver plan policies and strategies
- Identify and prioritize of Wisconsin-freight projects
- Coordinate with freight stakeholders
- Serve as a resource for freight information.
Where Do We Plan To Spend The Funding?
This map outlines the projects WisDOT plans to utilize National Highway Freight Program funds on (as of fall 2022). It is possible that this list may change.