New interchange announced for Highway 29 in Brown County


    Highway 29 and County VV in Brown County, December 11, 2018 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

    BROWN COUNTY (WLUK) -- Change is coming to a busy highway in the Green Bay area.

    A brand new interchange is designed to improve safety and spark economic development.

    In three or four years, the ramps will be located in Hobart and Howard, in the western part of Brown County, just west of the current Highway 29 and VV intersection.

    About 20,000 vehicles make their way down that section of Highway 29 each day. For drivers heading to Maplewood Meats in Howard, traffic can be a challenge.

    "It's pretty tough, especially if you get out of here, and head toward Green Bay, you got to go down there, cross the traffic twice, it's tough to do," said Mark Thompson, Ringle.

    Thompson is talking about a J-turn, The Wisconsin Department of Transportation installed it at the intersection in 2013.

    "The D.O.T. put it there, to make the intersection safer, and in the meantime, was working to try to convert the intersection to an interchange," said Cole Runge, Brown County Principal Planner.

    On Tuesday, Brown County leaders announced a federal, state, and local partnership to build a brand new interchange just west of the current 29-VV intersection.

    "Once that interchange is finished, the two intersections at U and VV will be closed," said Runge.

    The improvements go beyond the roadway.

    "There's going to get some commercial development along 29. And then you have businesses out there, who want to expand, who are really waiting for the interchange. Maplewood Meats is one of them," said Burt McIntyre, Howard Village President.

    "It was a very long, and anticipated day, when this would come," said Brad Van Hemelryk, Maplewood Meats Plant Manager.

    Van Hemelryk says the store is a busy place, and a new interchange would be good for business.

    "I think it's just positive all around. I think in allowing the traffic, volume of traffic come through safer, is huge," he said.

    "That's the best idea they can come up with is the interchange. I think it's a great idea," said Thompson.

    The project is nearly $28 million, with a federal highway grant picking up about $20 million.

    The rest of the cost will be shared between Brown County, The Village of Hobart, the Village of Howard, and the State.

    Taking a closer look at crashes at that intersection, the D.O.T. indicates between 2009 and 2012, there were a total of 23 crashes.

    One had serious injuries, four had moderate injuries, and two resulted in minor injuries. Of those 23 crashes, 16 caused property damage.

    The J-turn was installed in 2013.

    Between 2014 and 2017, there were 34 crashes.

    None resulted in serious injuries, but one had moderate injuries, and two were minor.

    The other 32 led to property damage.

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