Gov. Walker calls on DOT to explore I-41 corridor expansion

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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday called on the state Department of Transportation to look at expanding the I-41 corridor between Appleton and De Pere.

Interstate 41 sign

The 20-mile corridor is four lanes--two in each direction. The governor wants to expand it to six lanes, or three in each direction.

Te stretch is a well known source of frustration for many drivers.

"Particularly if you've driven that highway during rush hour in the morning or the afternoon, it's almost every day you're coming to a standstill," says State Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton).

State Rep. Dave Murphy (R-Greenville) has been pushing for an expansion from four to six lanes on a six-mile stretch of interstate between Highway 15 and Highway 441.

"Oshkosh has six lanes, and Neenah has six lanes, and De Pere has six lanes and Appleton doesn't. That makes no sense," Murphy tells Action 2 News.

Murphy says that stretch is "inadequate" and dangerous for drivers.

"This is not just an economic development issue, though it is. It's not just a convenience issue, because it's also that, because there's lots of congestion and backups and issues with people being able to get to work on time. But it's a safety issue," Murphy says.

A DOT study would look at the cost of expanding I-41. They will look at crash data and how many cars travel that stretch.

"What we're going to do is, we're going to go out there and we're going to look a the safety factors," says Mark Kantola, Wisconsin Department of Transportation. "We're going to look at the crash data factors, we're going to look at the traffic forecasting, we're going to count how many cars are out there."

State Sen. Roth says an expansion would have a wide impact.

"We have been talking with local business leaders, residents have been calling concerned, so it's kind of one of those things where enough people have talked and it's kind of raised it to the level where everyone recognizes that this is important now," Roth says.

A DOT study would be a first step in a process that could take a up to a decade.

In June, Action 2 News reported on a high number of yearly crashes on I-41 between Breezewood Lane and Highway 441. Since 2013, there have been an average of 469 crashes per year on that stretch, according to the DOT.

The DOT says that stretch of the interstate has higher crash statistics than the state average for similar roadways.