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Free 25th Street exit: reconfiguring lanes for I-43 S to I-94 W is common sense

Free at last! Traffic for 26th Street off ramp is often squeezed in with cars slowing down to shift left for westbound travel.
Free at last! Traffic for 26th Street off ramp is often squeezed in with cars slowing down to shift left for westbound travel.
Charlie's Digital

The lanes of the Marquette interchange connecting I-43, I-94 and I-794 were laid out in a manner that cultivates traffic jams and accident potential. One of the worst, and perhaps easiest to fix, without major construction, are the southbound I-43 to westbound I-94 lanes.

Recently the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department has focused some enforcement on drivers coming around the bend from I-43 crossing into the painted stopping lane in an effort to get quickly to the 25th Street off ramp. As the road stands, the deputies are on firm legal ground -- it is illegal to pass on the right in that manner. But the lanes could be organized much better.

Two lanes come around the bend, then consolidate over several thousand yards into one. THEN, the majority of the traffic in the consolidated lanes needs to shift left into the nearest lane that continues west. If traffic is even a little dense, much less packed rush hour traffic, these cars slow to a crawl or stop while signalling for their lane change to the left. Meantime, drivers who simply want to exit are stuck behind them, making the stopping lane a great temptation.

It would make a lot more sense for all concerned to CONTINUE two lanes all the way up to the exit. The right lane would be EXIT ONLY at 26th Street, while the left lane would be for traffic that needed to shift left to continue west on I-94.

Of course there would still be the drivers who try to speed by in the right lane, then bring it to a dead halt trying to shift TWO lanes to the left at the last minute, but there would be some sorting out of traffic based on destination. Clearly posting the two lanes well in advance would allow most drivers to sort out the lane they intended to get into well in advance of any opportunity to actually shift lanes further left.

On the southbound portion of the interchange, feeding into I-94 E (at that point, really south) and I-43 S, more separation is needed between the lane merging in from the 11th Street on ramp, and the I-794 to I-43 lane, which ultimately becomes Exit Only at National Avenue. There is too much open temptation for drivers who WANT to exit at National to ease over into the traffic coming from I-794, without ever fully merging into the southbound I-94 lane, with the potential for accidents on either side.


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