Mother of All Toll Roads Coming to Door County

The Governor on Friday unveiled the “Northeast Wisconsin Tollway Initiative,” a $37 billion project that will create a four-lane toll road stretching from Green Bay to Northport, an unincorporated community at the tip of the Door Peninsula. The multiyear project will expand Interstate 43 north through Brown, Kewaunee, and Door Counties. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is slated to start construction in summer 2012, and work is expected to continue through 2022.

The Governor spoke to local officials and onlookers outside the Sister Bay Village Hall during a televised press conference March 30. He hailed the initiative as “Wisconsin moving ever-forward.”

“Local grocery stores and hardware stores – all the mom and pop storefronts cluttering your community – are about to become 20th century relics,” the Governor said. “In their place, imagine a new Super Wal-Mart; imagine a Best Buy, a Bed Bath & Beyond. Imagine all of this framed by your harbor – by a Door County sunset – just minutes from I-43’s Sister Bay off ramp. You gave me the Governorship; I give you the American Dream fulfilled.”

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has yet to determine if it will straighten this famous section of road near the ferry dock at Northport as part of a four-lane highway expansion project. An alternative plan placing two parallel winding roads side-by-side is being discussed. Above is an artist’s rendering of the alternative plan.

State tourism officials have already begun touting Door County as Wisconsin’s premiere shopping destination of the future. A spokesman for a Wisconsin business lobby lauded the Tollway Initiative as a “boon for 99 percenters everywhere.”

“Door County will become Wisconsin’s premiere shopping destination,” the spokesman said. “No longer will Northern Door residents need to drive 90 minutes south to Green Bay to fulfill their big-box shopping needs. Sister Bay, we’re brining the big boxes to you.”

Initially, Highway 57 will be widened and rebranded Interstate 43 in the corridor connecting Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay. A new bridge will be constructed on the Highway 42/57 bypass around Sturgeon Bay’s business district. The bridge – already dubbed the “New ‘New’ “New” Bridge” by locals – will accommodate two northbound lanes of traffic across the city’s shipping canal.

North of Sturgeon Bay, state officials are expected to exercise the power of eminent domain over vast swaths of the Door Peninsula, transferring property titles from private owners to the government. Interstate 43 will bypass local villages, slicing straight through the heart of the peninsula to Northport, its northerly terminus. Door County population centers will remain accessible from the tollway by a series of exit ramps and interchanges.

The completed tollway is widely expected to generate considerable amounts of revenue for state coffers, although Interstate 43’s final tolls have yet to be revealed.

State treasury department representatives discussed the tollway’s anticipated financial impact at a meeting of the Door County Board of Supervisors Friday. “Revenue projections are off the charts,” said one representative. “Each year, during the summer months, Door County’s population increases 10-fold. Where do you think these hundreds of thousands of people come from? I don’t know – I’m not a doctor. But what I do know is they drive cars. Cars need roads, so we’re going to lay down the mother of all toll roads and let them tear down this little peninsula of yours at 75 miles per hour—for a nominal fee, of course. Cha-ching.”

Speaking in Ephraim Friday, the Governor hailed the Tollway Initiative as the “crown jewel” of his first term in office.

“Imagine a world-class truck stop just steps from Ephraim Beach,” said the Governor. “What an incredible view. This is going to a tollway made of dreams. Welcome back, Wisconsin.”

Rian Hill contributed reporting from Chicago.

Editor’s Note: Just kidding. It’s April Fools Day. If you got this far and still believed everything written here, we’re sorry. But we hope you laughed.