Truck weight restricted at Wisconsin’s busiest interchange

| 8/21/2009

The Wisconsin DOT has announced a truck weight restriction on three ramps of the busy Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee. More than 350,000 vehicles use the interchange each day, and it is considered the busiest in the state.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials announced the restrictions Tuesday, Aug. 18, following an inspection. Officials said the restriction is necessary to preserve the ramps until they can eventually be rebuilt. Officials do not yet know when the interchange could be reconstructed.

“Considering Wisconsin’s dire finances, hell may freeze over before these ramps get redone,” said OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Specialist Joe Rajkovacz. A former owner-operator, Rajkovacz called Wisconsin his home for 35 years.

The maximum weight allowance is as follows:

  • 60,000 pounds on Northbound I-894/U.S. 45 through the interchange to North U.S. 45;
  • 70,000 pounds on Southbound U.S. 45 to the Eastbound I-94 connector ramp; and
  • 80,000 pounds on Northbound I-894/U.S. 45 to the Westbound I-94 ramp.

WisDOT’s online detour map shows alternative routes for heavy haulers.

Rajkovacz said thousands of trucks each day use Milwaukee routes because the other major route from Chicago to Madison, WI, is I-90, and that’s a toll road.

Any way to avoid the restricted area should be considered, he said.

If it’s not rush hour, Rajkovacz recommends truckers stay on I-94 to downtown Milwaukee, swinging west to Madison.

If rush hour is a consideration, Rajkovacz recommends taking the first part of I-894, hopping onto I-43 (Hale Interchange toward Beloit) for five miles and exiting north onto Moorland Road, also marked as Milwaukee County Route O. Moorland has about six stoplights but a driver can end up on I-94 West while avoiding the restricted interchange.

Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department will oversee enforcement of the restriction. The state’s schedule of fines for overweight vehicles is in effect for the restricted area, ranging from $297 for 1,000 pounds overweight to $775 for 5,000 pounds over to $1,531 for 10,000 pounds over.

“We don’t intend to make this a heavier burden than it needs to be on the truck operator,” Sheriff’s Department Capt. Tom Meverden told Land Line.

He said enforcement of the restriction will be nothing out of the ordinary compared to other restrictions around the county and state.

“Given something the nature of this, where it’s a route change out of the norm, some drivers will tell you they’re over the limit right away and that they missed the signs,” he said. “But the signage is very heavy in the area.”

The interchange opened in 1963.

– By David Tanner, staff writer