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Expect Heavy Traffic for Deer Hunting and Thanksgiving

Although most major highway construction projects have concluded for the year, drivers may encounter some ongoing road work as well as heavy traffic during the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

“Drivers generally won’t have to deal with detours on major highways because of construction projects, but there are some areas where lane restrictions and reduced speeds may still be in effect,” said Beth Cannestra of the WisDOT Bureau of Project Development.

Traffic is expected to be heavy on Friday, November 18, as deer hunters begin to flock to the woods. Traffic will be heavy again on Wednesday and Thursday, November 23 and 24, when motorists travel to join friends and family for the Thanksgiving holiday and on Sunday, November 27 when they return home.

The heavy holiday traffic may cause sudden and unexpected back-ups, so WisDOT officials advise drivers to slow down and pay attention. As always, everyone must drive sober and buckle up. 

Last year, four people died in traffic crashes in Wisconsin during the Thanksgiving holiday period, which runs from 6:00 PM on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to midnight on the following Sunday.

To help prevent crashes, WisDOT will display traffic safety messages on its electronic signs on major highways during the holiday period.

“This time of year, drivers need to be especially cautious because weather conditions can change rapidly, the hours of daylight decrease, and deer are extremely active,” says David Pabst, director of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety. “If drivers make responsible decisions, such as buckling up, slowing down, paying attention and driving sober, they can prevent crashes and help ensure a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving for everyone.”

Significant highway construction projects that may affect holiday travel include:

  • In Milwaukee County, ongoing work to the Zoo Interchange has closed several ramps including: from I-41/US 45 southbound to I-94 eastbound; from I-94 westbound to I-41/I-894 southbound; and from I-94 eastbound to I-41/US 45 northbound. Weather permitting, the lane closure at Sunny Slope Road should be reopened prior to Thanksgiving.
  • I-39/90 in Dane and Rock counties. Be alert for lane shifts and reduced speeds.
  • In Dane County, work along the Madison Beltline and Verona Road (US 18/151) interchange should be completed by Nov. 18, but some construction barrels will remain for a little longer and delays can be expected as motorists adjust to new configurations.
  • US 10 eastbound between Winnebago County CB and I-41 northbound is reduced to a single lane.
  • In Winnebago County, the westbound US 10/southbound WIS 441 to northbound I-41 ramp will be closed until the spring of 2018. Motorists can continue on westbound US 10 to WIS 76, take WIS 76 north to WIS 96 and follow WIS 96 east to northbound I-41.
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