JANESVILLE—Traffic snarls soon will be a thing of the past as construction on the final stretch of Interstate 39/90 between Beloit and Madison is winding up.

After seven months of construction on a diverging diamond interchange in Janesville, and road closures throughout the process, the new configuration is officially open to drivers. To commemorate the occasion, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers hosted a completion ceremony Wednesday at the Janesville Park and Ride.

The event capped off a 45-mile lane expansion. Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials previously said all southbound lanes in Dane and Rock counties are expected to be fully open by Friday and the final stages of the Interstate 43 interchange in Beloit should be complete in early December.

The project, which began with design work being approved in 2012, expanded the interstate from two lanes in each direction to three lanes in each direction, and expanded it to four lanes in each direction in the Janesville area. The project included the reconfiguration of 11 interchanges between Beloit and Madison.

According to DOT regional communications manager Steven Thiesen, the new interchange will help alleviate congestion created by the 70,000-plus motorists traveling along the interstate on a daily basis. Before construction was started, there were only two double-lane stretches from Madison to Beloit, which led to major backups in the evening and resulted in increased traffic accidents.

On top of easing congestion, Thiesen believes the new configuration will aid in the commercial end of the spectrum.

“Making sure we can efficiently move commerce, goods and tourism traffic is crucial,” he said. “This project really does that and has the innovation we need to spur that growth.”

John Cunnigham, vice president of Forward Janesville, noted the project’s undergoing spanned across the past three governors, including Evers.

“This has long been the backbone of south central Wisconsin’s economy,” Cunningham said. “This was never just a Janesville project, or a Rock County project, it was really a Wisconsin project”

Gov. Evers spoke about the implications the project’s completion will have on tourism to the region.

“Our new and improved gateway to Wisconsin… will attract major employers in the area and provide new opportunities for growth in tourism and businesses,” he said.

According to Evers, in 2019, Dane and Rock County alone had an estimated $1.6 billion impact. Much of the funds were attributed to visitors spending money on food, lodging, retail, sales and recreation.

“The I-39 project shows us once again when we invest in Wisconsin transportation, we’re investing in more than just steel and concrete,” he added.

Wisconsin DOT secretary Craig Thompson touched upon the diamond interchange and the successful track record similar ones have.

“This project also included a lot of innovative firsts, including the first divergent diamond at the Highway 11 interchange,” he said. “It went so well we ended up using the diamond along to other intersections along this route (including Janesville’s) as well,” Thompson added.

Cunningham concluded the group’s remarks by mentioning his 16-year-old son, who was a toddler at the onset of the project.

“I would always joke that by the time he gets his license, he’ll be able to drive on this (interstate),” he said. “Sure enough, he’s getting his license next week.”

As a parent, he shared the usual concerns of having a teenager learn to drive, especially as they relate to safety.

“This project has made the interstate safer and now more reliable for everyone—including worried parents of new 16-year-old drivers,” Cunningham said.

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