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 is perched right at the junction of Highway 113 and the road to MSN – Madison’s Dane County Regional Airport. 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 Sawyer 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!