Quickie Summary: State “Trunk” Highway 30 is a shell of its former self. Today it’s a short freeway spur from I-39/90/94 to U.S. Highway 151 (East Washington Avenue), with the Aberg Avenue extension connecting to Highway 113 and the MSN/Dane County Regional Airport. But prior to I-94’s opening in the 1960s, Highway 30 was THE main road between Madison and Milwaukee. We’ll look at the former highway and follow as much of it as possible so we can experience what getting between the two cities was like back in the day.
Highway 30 Road Trip – Today
The Current Drive (East to West): Highway 30 once ran all the way across from Milwaukee to Madison from 1924 until 1965, when I-94 was completed from Milwaukee to I-90 just outside of Madison. The three-mile stretch of original Highway 30 from I-39/90/94 to Aberg Avenue is what remains… so this will be quick!
We pick up Highway 30 in what’s called the “Badger Interchange.” where I-39/90 and I-94 meet. It’s the southern start of I-39/90/94’s “triple concurrency” run up to Portage – the longest such concurrency in the nation. Highway 30 heads west from the Badger Interchange and offers a view of the Madison isthmus, including the Capitol, much of downtown and part of the UW campus, as you descend from the high point of the Badger Interchange down into the city of Madison.
This portion is freeway, basically a continuation of I-94 getting into the capital city. Highway 30 crosses U.S. 51/Stoughton Road, the major north-south highway on Madison’s east side if you don’t count the interstates.
After that, you reach a small interchange with Fair Oaks Road, where an on-ramp to westbound Highway 30 basically points at the “END” sign for today’s highway just before the interchange with U.S. 151/East Washington Avenue. “East Wash,” as it’s called, is basically the primary route to the State Capitol from Highway 30.
Highway 30 technically ends at that point but the four-lane road continues west for another mile or so as Aberg Avenue, before ending at Highway 113/Packers Avenue. The “Packers” in the name refers to the mammoth Oscar Mayer plant that has been operating in Madison for decades; sadly, it is scheduled to close this year.
** BREWERY ALERT **
Just north on Highway 113, literally blocks away, you’ll find the Ale Asylum Brewery. Ale Asylum moved into this location at the junction of Highway 113 and the road to MSN – Madison’s Dane County Regional Airport – after about seven years on Stoughton Road. This location is a full restaurant, bar, brewery, and event space and is a fun place to enjoy craft brews, watch games, or see people having a few before dealing with TSA at the airport.
From this end, downtown Madison, the Capitol, and the UW campus are all an easy ride down U.S. 151 or Highway 113.
Can connect immediately to: U.S. 151/East Washington Avenue
Can connect nearby to: U.S. 51/Stoughton Road, about 1.5 miles east; Highway 113, about one mile west
Can connect immediately to: I-39, I-90, I-94
Can connect nearby to: Highway 73, about 10 miles east
What’s more intriguing about Highway 30? The HISTORICAL route!
The Highway 30 Historic Drive
The HISTORIC Drive (West to East): Highway 30 was originally designated between Madison and Milwaukee in 1924. From the Capitol, Highway 30 ran northeasterly out of downtown along East Washington Avenue and then dived to to Atwood Avenue, hugging Lake Monona and then beelining east about County BB/Cottage Grove Road through Cottage Grove and then via today’s County B through Lake Mills, Johnson Creek and Concord. From there, it followed much of today’s I-94 path except for the section between Willow Glen and Saywer Roads where it followed today’s County DR, and into Delafield where it followed today’s Delafield Road. East of today’s Goerkes Corners, Highway 30 followed Bluemound Road and Wisconsin Avenue into downtown Milwaukee.
In the early 1940s, Highway 30 was moved to a more direct route from Lake Mills to Concord, on the route of I-94 today. Gradually west of Lake Mills and east of Concord, Higwhway 30 was moved to today’s I-94 path in sections. In the late 1940s, the section of Highway 30 west of Cottage Grove was moved to today’s County T and Commercial Avenue.
Okay, we’ll follow selected parts here, allowing us to go right through the heart of many of these towns that I-94 skims.
And we’ll be posting that shortly!
Events on this Tour
The 10th annual Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest brings a ton of brewers and cheesemakers from around Wisconsin and adjoining states to Madison, where you can meet and mingle with them while sampling hundreds of varieties. This is quite the warm, happy, and fun celebration right in the midst of winter. The Isthmus is celebrating 10 Years of the Beer & Cheese Fest, and "still crushing it," and they celebrate their Aluminum Anniversary with more breweries and cheesemakers than ever! Piano Fondue Dueling Pianos will perform and take requests; Silent Disco will also be there providing entertainment. General admission tickets ($50) grant festival entry from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. and include unlimited sampling and an Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest tasting glass. "Premium Tickets" ($85) allow for a more intimate atmosphere with early access to exclusive tappings & tastings from noon - 2 p.m. Premium Ticket purchases also include an official Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest t-shirt, a tasting glass, and a meal from their Food Court Cart inside the Alliant Energy Center. Either way, it's a great afternoon experiencing some of Wisconsin's best eats and drinks. Tickets tend to sell out every year, so if you want to go, score them sooner rather than later. Of course, you must be 21 to attend. Shuttle rides are available from HopCat (222 W. Gorham Street), Great Dane's Hilldale location (357 Price Place), and One Barrel Brewing Company (2001 Atwood Avenue.) Parking for the Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall is accessible through the Main Gate and costs $7. A coat check (it'll be January) will be available for $2. You can purchase tickets online here. You'll find the Alliant Energy Center on Madison's south side, right off the Beltline (U.S. 12 & U.S. 18) near Rimrock Road and John Nolen Drive. U.S. 14, 51, and 151 and Highways 30 and 113 are all nearby.
Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest Address:Alliant Energy Center 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way Madison, WI 53713 (608) 251-5627 Website Facebook Event Page