I-94 Shoulders Could Become Lanes for Self-Driving Trucks

Highway officials are considering building up the shoulders along I-94 south from Milwaukee and using them as traffic lanes for self-driving trucks to serve the Foxconn Technology Group factory to be built in Mount Pleasant.

The idea is part of a process that is in its “really, really early” stages, but is among possibilities being contemplated as Wisconsin undertakes the $500 million expansion of I-94, State Transportation Secretary Dave Ross said this week.

Wisconsin is seeking funding to test a route for autonomous trucks as part of the state’s application for $246 million in federal grant money to help pay for the overall I-94 project. The route would run from Mitchell International Airport and along the freeway south to the Racine County area where Foxconn plans to build a massive manufacturing campus to produce high-resolution flat screens.

Ross spoke this week at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Policy Forum and in an interview afterward.

Self-driving vehicles are being tested elsewhere, but mostly in warm-weather states, Ross said in the interview. “Part of the grant is that this is going to be an all-weather testing route, which is very unique in the nation,” he said.

Ross said other states have been using highway shoulders as traffic lanes at some times. That is a possibility for bringing self-driving trucks onto I-94, he indicated.

They potentially could run in the dedicated lane, which would receive additional paving, at all times or only during certain hours, “say nine o’clock at night to six in the morning,” Ross said.