The construction of Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group’s $10-billion liquid crystal display manufacturing plant along I-94 south of Milwaukee has made the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation’s plan to equip its freeway with infrastructure for connected and autonomous vehicle technology more critical. 

In June, Wisconsin received $160 million in federal funds for a major upgrade of I-94 south that is a critical transportation link in Foxconn’s supply chain. The IT manufacturer plans to use connected vehicles that exchange safety and traffic info as well as autonomous vehicles.

The I-94 south work is part of a highway project to upgrade the 35-mile I-94 North-South Freeway that stretches from Milwaukee to the Illinois state line.

Safe, reliable operation of autonomous vehicles in Wisconsin will require many elements to function as a system, including signage, high-definition mapping, roadside units and communications systems, which will interface with vehicle-based components and sub-systems, according to WisDOT.

Preliminary work has begun on an accelerated schedule to expand 18.5 miles of I-94 in Milwaukee County to eight lanes from six, by December 2021. The expansion will run to state Highway 142 in Kenosha County.

Crews began prep work Sept. 24 on the northern segment of the $1.9-billion I-94 North-South Freeway Project, according to a WisDOT spokesman. The work involves reconstructing and expanding 7.5 miles of freeway on two interchanges. Mainline lane work is expected to begin in mid-October.

Work is already underway on 4.5 miles of the central segment and 6.5 miles of the southern segment.

Wisconsin DOT Secretary Dave Ross says, “In the four months since receiving Federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant funding, WisDOT finalized plans and bid three large freeway construction contracts. By using an accelerated schedule, the entire 18.5-mile project will be completed in less than two years.”