vegetation and porous pavement under an overpass

Marquette Interchange Project



Project Overview

The Marquette Interchange Project was the first Green Highway project to be constructed. The primary goal of the project is the capture and treatment of stormwater runoff from the highway before its discharge into the combined sewer system or into the Menomonee River. Runoff from highways carries a variety of pollutants including heavy metals, motor oils and fluids, suspended solids, and salts. A variety of green infrastructure practices were developed and installed to remove these pollutants before they enter the waterway or sewer system. Green infrastructure captures, absorbs, or stores rain and melting snow.

The Marquette Interchange project site presented unique design challenges. The interchange is the 2nd largest interchange in Wisconsin with 16 acres of open land under its bridge decks. This open land had limited sunlight, legacy pollutants, heavy salt accumulation in the soil from the runoff, and had to be designed to accommodate interchange infrastructure.

The final design included three bioretention basins, a permeable maintenance path, rock-lined channels, a permeable paver plaza, and 4-acres of native landscaping. Innovative pre-treatment devices were also designed and installed. The innovative pre-treatment devices help capture and reduce pollutants in the stormwater runoff before it is released into the sewer system or nearby waterways. 

Project Map

Click the arrow on the top left-hand side to view the map legend.

The Marquette Interchange Green Highway project captures the first inch of rainfall, equaling more than 290,000 gallons of runoff from nearly 6 acres of the freeway.

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    Completed bioswales employing native plants to capture and filter highway runoff

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    Construction of bioswales

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    Planting native vegetation

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    Menomonee Valley Partner’s Takeout and Tunes event during Valley Week

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    Event attendees exploring new trails as part of Takeout and Tunes

As part of the engineering design phase of the project for stormwater capture and treatment, the community also identified other desired amenities that were incorporated into the master plan for the site. Since these additional amenities are not fundable through the MMSD’s Green Solutions funding, local stakeholders will take the lead for the next phase of the master plan.  

Also, during the project engineering design phase, community agencies found housing for 93 individuals living unsheltered at the project site. Crime and litter were problems at the site; the completed project encourages new community uses for the site.

Project Benefits

  • Provide stormwater storage
  • Provide stormwater treatment
  • Improve water quality
  • Activate space below the overpass for public use

Project Timeline

  • Fall 2019 – Engineering Design with Public Engagement Opportunities
  • Summer 2020 – Construction
  • Winter 2020 – Project Completed


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Green Infrastructure in the Greater Milwaukee Area

cement and grass underneath a highway overpass

Becher Street Overpass Project

Learn about MMSD's Becher Street Overpass Project and the Green Highways Initiative.

porous pavement in alleyway

Porous Pavement

Porous pavement systems allow runoff to soak into the pavement surface and engineered stone layers below. The water then slowly moves down into the ground and is connected to local stormwater sewers or can be collected and stored for future use. 

bioswale by road with native plants


Bioswales are landscape features that collect polluted stormwater runoff, soak it into the ground, and filter out pollution. Bioswales are similar to rain gardens but are designed to capture much more runoff coming from larger areas of impervious surfaces like streets and parking lots.