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The Connect 2050 Draft Plan

Connect 2050 is Wisconsin’s statewide, multimodal, long-range transportation plan. The plan will help decision-makers improve and invest in all types of transportation in our system – from roads to ports to sidewalks – across the state through the year 2050. Connect 2050 is:

Long-range: looks ahead to the future, in this case to 2050.

Statewide: has a broad reach, its vision, goals, and objectives will guide WisDOT’s decision-making for all Wisconsin and for all people

Multimodal: setting goals and objectives that apply to all modes and means of transportation in Wisconsin, including cars, roads, transit, biking, walking, rail, aviation and water transport.

Connect 2050 Vision
Connect 2050’s vision statement is Wisconsin’s vision for the transportation system as it is developed and maintained over time:

We envision an integrated multimodal transportation system that maximizes the safe and efficient movement of people and products throughout the state, enhancing economic productivity and the quality of Wisconsin’s communities while minimizing impacts to the natural environment.

Guiding Principles

The following guiding principles are the core of WisDOT’s planning process. These guiding principles are the values that drove the Connect 2050 planning process:

Implement and maintain a statewide multimodal transportation system that provides affordable, accessible, and equitable transportation choices to all people.

Ensure that no person is excluded from, participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, sex, age, religion, income status or limited English proficiency in any and all programs, activities or services administered by WisDOT.

Embrace a cooperative, continuing, comprehensive planning process.

Accessibility, equity, safety and inclusivity are some of the guiding principles behind the Connect 2050 plan

Plan Goals and Objectives

Connect 2050’s goals and objectives apply to all modes of transportation throughout the entire state of Wisconsin.

Goals provide guidance and identify topics of importance to preparing our transportation system for the future.

Objectives are more specific than goals and identify the ends to which specific action or policies will be aimed.

Policies are specific action-based statements that identify means by which the goals and objectives will be implemented. WisDOT’s modal plans such as the Wisconsin Rail Plan or Freight Plan, business plans such as the Transportation Asset Management Plan, or other efforts identify policies.

Actions are specific activities WisDOT or other entities will perform to implement policies.

Goal 1: Pursue sustainable long-term transportation funding.

Funding is the key to ensuring that Wisconsin’s transportation system is maintained and developed in a way that is safe for all users, will meet demand both current and future, and that the transportation system exists in a state of good repair today such that we protect our assets for the future.


Ensure funding is efficiently managed and sufficient to support WisDOT’s long-term plans for a providing a transportation system that is in a state of good repair, and is safe, efficient and accessible.

Facilitate financial management, assistance, and equitable access to funding at the regional and local level.

Pursue innovative funding mechanisms and solutions.

What are we doing now? Some Examples
The state’s $7.2 billion transportation budget for 2019-2021 is largely funded by motor fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees, and driver license fees. Also, Wisconsin receives money from the federal government based on formula and discretionary funding programs. Other funds include program revenue and local revenue.
WisDOT's State Urban Mass Transit Operating Assistance program provides operating cost assistance to support bus, shared-ride taxi cab and rail services. Federal transit programs further support rural and urban transit systems and specialized transit services in Wisconsin.
The General Transportation Aids (GTA) program enables local governments to receive state aid payments for county and municipal road construction, maintenance, and traffic operations. GTA is WisDOT’s second largest program with a budget of $985.6million in the 2019-2021 state budget.

Goal 2: Focus on partnerships.

Effective partners work together. They communicate with each other and help each other when support is needed. Wisconsin will focus on transportation partnerships to coordinate and cooperate toward shared objectives.

Goal 1: Focus on partnerships


Ensure the transportation system is developed in a way that addresses the needs of all users.

Ensure inclusivity, equity, access, and safety.

Eliminate and reduce transportation accessibility barriers.

Ensure the transportation system can adapt to changes over time, such as connected and automated vehicles, use of alternative fuels, telecommuting and other social changes, and needs of an aging population.

Collaborate with partners and stakeholders toidentify strategic transportation investment opportunities.

Identify and communicate transportation system needs, priorities, and benefits to maximize transportation investments.

Ensure projects reflect the character and needs of communities.

What are we doing now? Some Examples
The Wisconsin Non-Driver Advisory Committee (WiNDAC) formed by WisDOT in 2020provides a forum to discuss transportation mobility, safety and access for Wisconsin’s non-driving populations due to physical, mental or developmental disabilities, age, financial constraints, or choice.
Industry representatives on the Freight Advisory Committee keep WisDOT informed about issues that affect freight access, mobility and viable transport from, to and within Wisconsin.
Our Harbor Assistance Program helps fund projects within communities along the Great Lakes and Mississippi River that maintain and improve the shipping, port and waterway resources that support our economy.

Goal 3: Pursue continuous improvement and expand data-driven decision-making processes.

Data-driven decision-making ensures that the transportation system is operated, maintained, and improved in the most efficient way possible and the right project is implemented in the right place and at the right time.


Strategically align resources and emphasize integrating performance-based decision making throughout the department.

Utilize cost-effective techniques to maximize transportation investments.

Continue using performance measures to inform sound investment decisions.

Be agile in adapting to changing data needs over time.

Assess, expand and improve data collection through technological means by processing, monitoring, using, reporting, and sharing data.

What are we doing now? Some Examples
Our Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP) identifies strategic investment decisions that will preserve and maintain the useful life of transportation assets over time.
WisDOT's MAPSS Performance Improvement Program focuses on five core goals and associated performance measures that guide us in achieving our mission "to provide leadership in the development and operation of a safe and efficient transportation system." We report our progress quarterly in summarized "scorecards" and improvement reports for each performance measure.
WisDOT meets federal requirements for system performance and measurement by reporting at regular intervals information about our assets to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Goal 4: Increase options, connections, and mobility
for people and goods.

Mobility and transportation choice create the foundation of an efficient, balanced and safe transportation system, which is critical to Wisconsin’s economic vitality and quality of life.  Increasing mobility, or the ability and ways by which people and goods move, provides many benefits for both people and freight including increased access to jobs, goods, and services, improved system efficiency, and options for moving goods.


Maximize freight mobility options that will support and enhance Wisconsin’s economic competitiveness and create a resilient supply chain.

Enhance transportation equity, access, mobility,and safety.

Facilitate mobility options that support transit use and active transportation, e.g., bicycling and walking.

Close gaps and create an inter-connected network of transportation facilities to safely and efficiently move people and goods.  

What are we doing now? Some Examples
Our Freight Railroad Infrastructure Improvement Program, or FRIIP, provides loans for rail projects that connect industry to the national rail program, enhance the safe and efficient movement of freight, rehabilitate lines, and help develop the economy. Since 1992, we've awarded$128 million in FRIIP loans. New for 2021, intermodal facility improvements and studies can also utilize FRIPP loans.
WisDOT financially supports the Hiawatha rail service between Chicago and Milwaukee. Hiawatha, the busiest route in the Midwest, served a record 880,000 passengers in 2019. A new Amtrak Thruway I-41Bus Service connects with the Hiawatha service in Milwaukee, and provides two daily round-trip buses between Green Bay and Milwaukee with stops in Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac.
The Wisconsin Bicycle Transportation Plan recognizes bicycling as a legitimate mode of transportation  and provides a blueprint for improving bicycle transportation and integrating bicycling into the current transportation system.

Goal 5: Maximize technology benefits.

Technological change occurs rapidly. The purpose of this goal is to encourage a proactive approach to embracing new technologies that will provide transportation benefits, and to be agile when doing so.


Identify opportunities to integrate transportation and technology that will support WisDOT’s vision.

Embrace technology and be agile in implementing technology-based solutions to improve all aspects of transportation including safety, resiliency, operations, maintenance, and transportation systems impacts on sensitive resources.

Utilize technology and data to maximize transportation investment benefits.

What are we doing now? Some Examples
We created the Wisconsin Automated Vehicle External (WAVE) Advisory Committee in 2020 to gather input and advise on Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV)-related planning priorities, policies, and impacts on the state’s transportation system.
Our Traffic Management Center (TMC) monitors roadway conditions throughout the state from one location, allowing faster responses for maintenance activities such as snowplow deployment, or Emergency Medical Services responses to incidents.
WisDOT installed a Truck Parking Information Management System (TPIMS) that uses sensors and cameras to create real-time information about the availability of truck parking. TPIMS enhances safety and efficiency by helping commercial truck drivers plan rest periods without having to exit the freeway and waste time and fuel looking for appropriate space.

Goal 6: Maximize transportation safety.

Wisconsin has always prioritized transportation safety as a goal of the transportation system. Safety and security are intrinsically intertwined; Wisconsin’s focus on creating a resilient transportation system and continuing to improve the speed and ability to prevent, coordinate, respond to, and recover from incidents, will create a system that is safe and secure for all users.


Develop and maintain a system that is safe and secure.

Strategically align resources to make progress towards the goal of zero fatalities in Wisconsin.

Leverage data and technology to improve safety.

Research and implement innovative solutions that involve education, engineering, enforcement, emergency management safety, and everyone.

What are we doing now? Some Examples
Replacing traditional intersections with roundabouts where warranted reduces severe injury crashes while also reducing traffic delays. As of 2019, Wisconsin had constructed 427 roundabouts, 162 of which are in rural areas and 246 in urban areas.
Centerline rumble strips have been shown to reduce head-on fatal and injury crashes by 44% on rural two-lane roads and 64%on similar urban two-lane roads. Shoulder rumble strips help reduce fatal and injury lane-departure crashes by up to 29% by alerting drivers when they move outside the driving lane.
The Wisconsin Highway Safety Improvement Program funds safety projects across the state such as intersection improvements, addressing sight distance problems, eliminating roadside obstacles, and installing guardrails and barriers. The program, which also has a subprogram that focuses on high-crash-risk rural roads, aims to reduce the number and severity of crashes on all streets and highways.

Goal 7: Maximize transportation system resiliency and reliability.

Resiliency is defined as the ability for the transportation system to continue operating in the face of an obstacle. Reliability, or the ability to move people and goods successfully and consistently, is generally impacted by things like congestion, inclement weather, and crashes. Reliability and resiliency go hand in hand; if the system is resilient, it will be reliable for users.


Develop a system that is agile in preventing, preparing for, and coordinating responses to any incident, whether natural or the result of human activity.

Emphasize system resiliency to reduce repair costs and improve safety and security.

Identify and assess risk-based solutions for system vulnerabilities.

What are we doing now? Some Examples
The Facilities Repeatedly Requiring Repair and Reconstruction (F4R) program identifies and conducts evaluations of roadway sand bridges that have had catastrophic damage resulting in state emergency declarations on two or more occasions. These evaluations help assess repair and reconstruction costs relative to the likelihood of a future event and consider alternatives.
Our Living snow fence program, designed to reduce blowing snow, contributes to a reliable system by incentivizing property owners to strategically plant trees and shrubs along roadways resulting in50-75 percent fewer winter weather-related crashes.
We track traffic patterns throughout the state to improve travel time reliability, so drivers can rely on consistent drive times and traffic flow. In 2018, our interstate highways were 93.2 percent reliable person-miles traveled.

Goal 8: Balance transportation needs with those of the natural environment, socioeconomic, historic, and cultural resources.

The natural environment and Wisconsin’s cultural resources contribute greatly to our quality of life. We should develop and maintain the transportation system in a way that balances transportation needs with those of the landscapes in which transportation exists. Landscapes include the physical environment like waterways and forests, but also socioeconomic resources such as access to food.


Develop a transportation system that avoids, minimizes, and compensates for environmental impacts.

Prioritize emissions reduction and alternative fuels to improve air quality.

Reduce waste and recycle materials during transportation projects.

Be sensitive to cultural, socioeconomic, and historic resources during the project development process.

Foster a safe and environmentally sensitive transportation system.

What are we doing now? Some Examples
Since beginning the Wetland Mitigation Program in 1993, WisDOT projects have restored about 5,808 acres of wetlands in the state.
Electric vehicle and alternative fuel vehicles are growing across Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s Interstate highways, (I-39, I-41,I-43, I-90, I-94, I-535) and US 53 and US 151 have been designated as Alternative Fuel Corridors to create a national network of alternative fueling and charging infrastructure.
WisDOT secured a $1.5 million grant in 2018 from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission Program to acquire six battery electric buses for three rural transit agencies.
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