Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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US 53 Corridor Preservation Study
Rice Lake-Superior, in Barron, Washburn and Douglas counties

View NW US 53 Corridor Preservation Study project location.
Map key - Thick orange line is the project overview/location. Blue tear drop with dot in center is the project limit.

Location | Overview | Status/phase

Project location

US 53, Rice Lake to Superior, in Barron, Washburn and Douglas County.

Project overview

This corridor preservation process will officially map the long-term vision of US 53 between Rice Lake and Superior. The project is divided into six areas:


US 53 is a backbone route in WisDOTís Corridors 2020 Plan, and has a segment of the corridor in the National Highway System (NHS). The plan places a high priority in protecting highway investments that connect major economic/population centers and carry long-distance, statewide traffic.

Between 1969 and 2006, US 53 has experienced several capacity expansion and safety enhancements between La Crosse and Superior. These improvements represented significant investments by WisDOT.

US 53 corridor is recognized as an important route with the desire for conversion to a freeway/expressway initiated as early as the late 1960s.

US 53 is one of Wisconsinís most important north-south corridors. The final segment of the four-lane facility between Rice Lake and Superior was completed in 1999.

As communities and traffic volumes along US 53 grow, demand for access along US 53 and concern about safety at access points will continue to increase.

Currently, six intersections along the corridor have higher than acceptable fatality rates from traffic crashes, they include: Barron County V, Washburn County B, Washburn County E, US 63 at Trego, WIS 77 at Minong, and Douglas County B.

The goal of the 75-mile corridor preservation effort is to protect the public investment in US 53 by planning for the long-term mobility and safety needs along the highway.

Key facts

  • Study to examine existing conditions and identify future needs along the US 53 corridor.
  • WisDOT to work with communities to identify the locations of future interchanges, overpasses and local road modifications.
  • Study team to prepare a report that outlines recommendations, along with preliminary plans and an environmental assessment.
  • No construction scheduled at this time.
  • Major steps in preparing these preservation plans include:
    • Gathering existing data such as traffic volumes, crash data and information about existing land use and traffic patterns.
    • Gathering information about future land use, travel demand and corridor improvement needs.
    • Analyzing future improvements in relation to cost, local impacts and environmental impacts.
    • Preparing alternative concept drawings for corridor improvements.

Status/phase

Study - Long term planning with no construction activity.

SSI - Project contacts Questions about the content of this page:
WisDOT Northwest Region Office, nwr.dtsd@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: July 23, 2014

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