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MRMC traffic congestion solutions update

Thank you to everyone who has provided input regarding the traffic congestion issues we have been experiencing intermittently on and around the Milwaukee Regional Medical Complex. It is very helpful to have insight into what people experience during their commute to and from campus.

MRMC leaders recently met with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation leaders, traffic engineers and designers to discuss our traffic issues. The DOT has been very responsive to our concerns and we appreciate their dedication to helping develop resolutions. A summary of campus input, including the content of emails and ideas for potential solutions, was given to the DOT.

Thanks to the collaborative work between the DOT and MRMC employees, some improvements recently were put in place, and we are already experiencing improved traffic flow because of the following changes:

  1. Longer left-turn green arrow from Wisconsin Avenue to Hwy 100.
  2. Adaptive signals activated at 92nd Street and Watertown Plank Road, and 87th Street and Watertown Plank Road, which are linked to the signal at Swan/Discovery, allowing for longer green lights at peak times. Learn more about adaptive signals.
  3. Longer green light at the 92nd and Connell Avenue signal.

With approximately 30,000 employees, visitors and patients traveling to and from the MRMC every day, you will still see many cars on the roads, but the signal changes are helping flush traffic through more quickly.

Using some alternate routes to I-94 also will relieve congestion, especially for those who leave campus during peak times. The DOT recommends:

  • Drive westbound on Watertown Plank Road and south on Hwy 100 to I-94 West or I-94 East.
  • Drive south on 84th Street to I-94 East, when 84th opens Feb. 2.

A suggestion we heard from many of you was to modify the Watertown Plank Interchange to two lanes entering the US 45 ramp. The DOT explained that the ongoing Zoo Interchange project is causing more cars to use the interchange than the number that will be present when the project is finished. Therefore, they want to give the system time to work as it was designed, and expect the recent changes to improve traffic flow in the meantime.

The DOT’s traffic studies show backups at the interchange are also caused by drivers predominantly using the far right left-turn lane at 92nd and Watertown Plank Road. They suggest drivers use both left-turn lanes, and then merge to the right lane to enter US 45 ramps. Drivers in the right lane on Watertown Plank Road should allow cars to merge into the right lane.

Many also suggested returning Wisconsin Avenue to no parking between 87th and 94th streets. Parking was restored there after the Watertown Plank interchange was finished, as planned. We will work with the City of Wauwatosa to see if parking can again be restricted, especially during peak travel times.

MRMC will convene a traffic action team to proactively address additional measures being considered, including road striping to restrict cars from blocking parking structure exits and improvements to traffic and pedestrian signals on campus. We will be working with city and county officials on these changes, as they are in their jurisdiction.

The MRMC will also soon embark on campus-wide land-use planning, which will include a study of the roads and traffic on campus, and proposed improvements.

It’s important to keep in mind that as the Zoo Interchange project progresses, roads will incrementally open and draw traffic away from Watertown Plank, which will also improve traffic for MRMC. However, we will still experience delays when there are accidents on nearby freeways, during inclement weather, when roads are closed due to construction and when thousands of cars are arriving and leaving at the same time. Your continued patience and considerate driving are appreciated.

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