U.S. Route 12 in Wisconsin

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This article is about the section of U.S. Route 12 in Wisconsin. For the entire length of the highway, see U.S. Route 12.

US Highway 12 marker

US Highway 12
Route information
Maintained by WisDOT
Length: 339.40 mi[1] (546.21 km)
Existed: 1926 (1917 as WIS 12) – present
Major junctions
West end: I-94 / US 12 in Hudson
  I-94 in Hudson
I-94 in Elk Mound
I-94 in Black River Falls
I-94 in Tomah
I-90 in Tomah
I-90 / I-94 in Wis. Dells
I-90 / I-94 in Lake Delton
I-39 / I-90 in Madison
I-43 in Elkhorn
East end: US 12 in Genoa City
Counties: St. Croix, Dunn, Chippewa, Eau Claire, Clark, Jackson, Monroe, Juneau, Sauk, Dane, Jefferson, Rock, Walworth
Highway system
WIS 11 WIS 13

In the U.S. state of Wisconsin, U.S. Route 12 (normally called U.S. Highway 12, Highway 12 or U.S. 12) runs east–west across the western to southeast portions of the state. It enters from Minnesota (concurrently with Interstate 94) at Hudson, parallels the interstate to Wisconsin Dells, and provides local access to cities such as Menomonie, Eau Claire, Black River Falls, Tomah and Mauston. It then provides an alternative route for traffic between northwestern Wisconsin and Madison and is the anchor route for the West Beltline Highway around Madison. Finally, it serves southeastern Wisconsin, connecting Madison with Whitewater, Elkhorn and Lake Geneva. The West Beltline Highway and the segment between Elkhorn and Lake Geneva are freeways, and the segment between Sauk City and Middleton is an expressway. The remainder of the road is a two-lane surface road or an urban multi-lane arterial. Between Hudson and west of Warrens, the road closely parallels the former main line of the Omaha Road, now operated by Union Pacific Railroad.

Route description[edit]

Hudson to Lake Delton[edit]

U.S. 12 crosses the St. Croix River from Minnesota concurrent with I-94 into St. Croix County. Wisconsin Highway 35 (WIS 35) joins both routes upon their entry into Wisconsin and exits south three miles (5 km) east. U.S. 12 leaves I-94 one mile (1.6 km) further east from the eastern WIS 35 exit, treks two miles (3 km) north and parallels the interstate. The highway crosses WIS 65 in Roberts and passes through Hammond over a fifteen-mile (24 km) segment to Baldwin, where it crosses U.S. 63. U.S. 12 passes through Woodville four miles (6 km) east of Baldwin and crosses WIS 128 in Wilson, two miles (3 km) west of the Dunn County line.[2] Roughly three miles into Dunn County, U.S. 12 passes through Knapp, Wisconsin, then turns southeastward, connecting with WIS 79 six miles (10 km) further; it then joins WIS 25 (North Broadway Street) to the south in Menomonie. U.S. 12 turns east onto WIS 29 (Main Street East) in downtown Menomonie, and the two routes follow Stout Road east out of the city.[3] The highways meet an interchange with I-94, then split one half of a mile east in Elk Mound at the junction with WIS 40. U.S. 12 passes through Elk Mound and enters Eau Claire County[4]

U.S. 12 merges with WIS 312 east (North Crossing) for two miles (3 km) before turning south onto Clairemont Avenue, bypassing downtown Eau Claire to the south and west. WIS 37 joins with U.S. 12 on the southwest side of the city. Access to WIS 93 is provided via U.S. 53. The interchange between U.S. 12 and U.S. 53 in Altoona is Wisconsin's only single-point urban interchange.[5] U.S. 12 continues east out of the Eau Claire metropolitan area and passes through Fall Creek, where it turns southeastward to join WIS 27 south in Augusta. The two highways briefly join U.S. 10 on the Jackson County line in Fairchild[6] U.S. 12 and WIS 27 turn southward and pass through Humbird in Clark County and into Jackson County.[7]

U.S. 12 and WIS 27 cross WIS 95 in Merrillan and WIS 54 in Black River Falls. U.S. 12 and WIS 27 also split in Black River Falls. U.S. 12 follows I-94 to the southeast past Millston and into Monroe County.[8] The highway crosses I-94 (with no access) south of Kirby and junctions with WIS 21 on the north side of Tomah at an interchange with the interstate. U.S. 12 passes through Tomah and joins with WIS 16 on the south side at the junction with WIS 131 near Mill Bluff State Park. The highways continue paralleling I-90 and I-94 southeast and pass through Oakdale and into Juneau County.[8]

U.S. 12 and WIS 16 pass through Camp Douglas and cross WIS 80 in New Lisbon. The highways then junction with WIS 58 and WIS 82 in Mauston as they continue southeast. The routes trek eastward and pass through Lyndon Station, where Rocky Arbor State Park is located. The highways turn southeast again and cross the Interstates into Sauk County and Wisconsin Dells.[9] WIS 16 turns east onto WIS 13 north as WIS 23 west turns south onto U.S. 12. These highways follow the Wisconsin Dells Parkway south into the heart of the Wisconsin Dells tourism district,[10] — passing such attractions as Noah's Ark Waterpark,[11] the Wisconsin Ducks boat tours,[12] Kalahari Resort, Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park, Wilderness Territory, and Tommy Bartlett's Thrill Show.[13] WIS 23 turns west onto Monroe Ave as U.S. 12 turns southeast and crosses the Interstates.[14]

Lake Delton to Cambridge[edit]

US 12/US 18 eastbound at southern terminus of WIS 134 in Cambridge

At the I-90/94 interchange, U.S. 12 becomes a freeway that bypasses Baraboo. The section from I-90/94 to just south of Old Highway 33 is complete, and then U.S 12 joins its old alignment at a roundabout. WIS 33 joins the old U.S. 12 alignment three miles (5 km) north of Baraboo; the routes split in West Baraboo at WIS 136. U.S. 12 joins with WIS 159, a short highway that provides access to Devil's Lake State Park. Eventually, WisDOT will continue the Baraboo bypass freeway south of its current terminus at Old Highway 33, to just south of the Grasser Road overpass. Near the U.S. 12/WI 159 intersection, the highway will become an expressway to just south of Ski Hi Road. The highway briefly becomes an expressway two miles south of WIS 159 for seven miles (11 km) as it approaches Sauk City. WIS 60 briefly joins U.S. 12 in Sauk City and WIS 78 crosses the Wisconsin River concurrently with U.S. 12 into Dane County.[14] U.S. 12 becomes an expressway again at the county line and continues southeast, crossing WIS 19 at Springfield Corners. Just northwest of Middleton, the route becomes a freeway as it enters the Madison area along the West Beltline Highway.[15]

U.S. 12 merges with U.S. 14 at University Avenue. The freeway continues south and turns eastward at the interchange with CTH M and CTH S (Mineral Point Road). U.S. 18 and U.S. 151 join the beltline off Verona Road in southwestern Madison. The four routes travel concurrently for two miles (3 km), passing through interchanges with Todd Drive and Fish Hatchery Road before U.S. 14 leaves south towards Janesville and U.S. 151 north into downtown Madison via Park Street. The four-way concurrency was crossed by a railroad track at the surface until 2007. The crossing was isolated using Jersey barriers until that time.[16] The freeway also had several ramps, which contained driveways that accessed businesses.[17] U.S. 12 and U.S. 18 continue east into Monona and cross the Upper Mud Lake channel. The highways meet U.S. 51 at Stoughton Road, then interchange with I-39 and I-90 on the southeast side of Madison.[18] U.S. 12 and U.S. 18 continue as an expressway east of the interstates, junctioning with WIS 73 in Deerfield and splitting, with U.S. 12 turning southeast into Jefferson County in Cambridge.[15]

Cambridge to Genoa City[edit]

After leaving Cambridge, U.S. 12 passes through Oakland and crosses WIS 26, WIS 89, and WIS 106 in Fort Atkinson. WIS 89 joins U.S. 12 as the route turns southward to approach Whitewater, bypassing the city to the south into Walworth County. The route briefly enters Rock County before crossing into Walworth County[19] WIS 89 turns off U.S. 12 at its junction with WIS 59. WIS 59 East follows U.S. 12 briefly before turning north into the city. U.S. 12 passes through La Grange and turns south at the junction with WIS 20 to follow WIS 67 south. U.S. 12 turns southeast off WIS 67 onto a freeway northeast of Elkhorn. The highway crosses over WIS 11 with no access, then interchanges with I-43. Access for Lake Geneva is provided at WIS 120 and WIS 50 as U.S. 12 passes the city to the east. The highway turns south into Genoa City, where the freeway ends and U.S. 12 follows the crossroad into Illinois.


The entire route was originally signed as WIS 12 in 1917 prior to the creation of the U.S. highway system in 1926. Aside from changes resulting from the construction of freeways and U.S. 12 being aligned on them, some differences exist between the original route and today's alignment. WIS 12 followed CTH E, a more southerly alignment, between Menomonie and Eau Claire. From Black River Falls, WIS 12 continued south to Shamrock and turned east to follow CTH O to Millston. WIS 12 ran southerly from Tomah along WIS 131 to CTH A and turned east onto the county road to pass through Hustler and Clifton to reach New Lisbon.[1][20]

The route between Cambridge and Whitewater was upgraded to a straighter and flatter path for safety. A bypass of Whitewater was added in 2005, although the bypass is currently only two lanes. Upgrades to U.S. 12 between Middleton and Sauk City were completed in 2005, but local opposition prevented most of the remaining route north of that point to Lake Delton from being constructed.[1]

In Wisconsin, the highway was designated as the Iron Brigade Memorial Highway in 1993 to honor the Civil War Union Army unit; it also has this designation in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.[21][22][23][24]


Illinois State Line to Madison[edit]

The state originally planned to upgrade all of U.S. 12 from Madison to Genoa City to freeway in anticipation of Illinois facilitating a toll road south of the state line. However, after Wisconsin started upgrading between Elkhorn and Genoa City, it was realized that the project was shelved by Illinois, apparently due to community opposition (see FAP 342 and FAP 420).

Nonetheless, several portions of U.S. 12 between Genoa City and Madison are being studied for possibly upgrade to a freeway. A small, 3.5 mile section from the I-39/90 interchange to County N interchange east of Madison is being studied as part of the I-39/90 reconstruction project.[25] An extension of the U.S 12 freeway north of Elkhorn to Whitewater is currently being proposed as well. When that happens, the Whitewater bypass will be expanded to a four-lane freeway. A connection between the Whitewater and Fort Atkinson bypass's was in the planning stages, but that has been delayed until 2019 at the earliest.[26]

Madison to Wisconsin Dells[edit]

Several portions of U.S 12 between the Madison Beltline and Wisconsin Dells are being studied for upgrade to freeway.

Major intersections[edit]

Hudson to Middleton[edit]

(Section needs updating to add exit numbers for new Baraboo Bypass)

County Location Mile km Destinations Notes
St. Croix Hudson WIS 35 north WIS 35 South follow I-94 East / US 12 East
I-94 Exit 1[27]
CTH-A (Carmichael Road) / CTH-F I-94 Exit 2[27]
WIS 35 south WIS 35 North follow I-94 West / US 12 West
I-94 Exit 3[27]
I-94 east US 12 West follow I-94 West / US 12 East
Roberts WIS 65
Hammond CTH-T
Baldwin US 63
Woodville CTH-D
Wilson WIS 128
Dunn Knapp CTH-O
  WIS 79
Menomonie WIS 25 north WIS 25 South follow US 12 East
WIS 25 north / WIS 29 west WIS 25 North follow US 12 West
WIS 29 East follow US 12 East
Elk Mound I-94
WIS 29 east / WIS 40 WIS 29 West follow US 12 West
Eau Claire Eau Claire WIS 312 west (North Crossing) WIS 312 East follow US 12 East
WIS 312 east (North Crossing) / CTH-T WIS 312 West follow US 12 West
WIS 37

US 53 Bus. (Hastings Way)
Altoona US 53
Fall Creek CTH-K
Augusta WIS 27 north WIS 27 South follow US 12 East
Fairchild CTH-H
Jackson US 10 west US 12 East / WIS 27 South Follow US 10 East
Clark US 10 east US 12 West / WIS 27 North Follow US 10 West
Humbird CTH-B
Jackson Merrillan WIS 95
Black River Falls I-94
WIS 54
WIS 27 south WIS 27 North follow US 12 West
Millston CTH-O
Monroe Tomah I-94 / WIS 21
WIS 16 west / WIS 131 WIS 16 East follow US 12 East
Oakdale CTH-PP
Juneau Camp Douglas CTH-H
New Lisbon WIS 80
Mauston WIS 82
Lyndon Station CTH-HH
Indian Heights CTH-J
Sauk Wisconsin Dells WIS 13 / WIS 16 east / WIS 23 east WIS 16 West follow US 12 West
WIS 23 West Follow US 12 East
Lake Delton WIS 23 WIS 23 East Follow US 12 West
I-90 / I-94
West Baraboo WIS 33 west WIS 33 East follow US 12 East
WIS 33 east / WIS 136 WIS 33 West follow US 12 West
WIS 159
Bluffview CTH-C
Prairie du Sac CTH-Z
Sauk City WIS 60 west WIS 60 East follow US 12 East
WIS 60 east / WIS 78 south WIS 60 West follow US 12 West
WIS 78 South follow US 12 East
Dane WIS 78 south WIS 78 North follow US 12 West
Roxbury CTH-Y
Springfield Corners WIS 19
Ashton CTH-K
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Middleton to Cambridge[edit]

County Location Mile #[28] Destinations Notes
Dane Middleton   249 Parmenter St  
  250 CTH-M – Airport Rd, Century Ave West end of CTH M concurrency.
  251A US 14 west – Spring Green, La Crosse University Ave use Exit 251A
West end of US 14 concurrency.
  251B Parmenter St Westbound exit only
Madison   252 Greenway Blvd
  253 Old Sauk Rd  
  254 CTH-M / CTH-S – Mineral Point Rd East end of CTH M concurrency.
  255 Gammon Rd
  257 Whitney Way
  258 US 18 west / US 151 south (Midvale Blvd, Verona Rd) – Dodgeville West end of US 18 and US 151 concurrencies.
  258A Seminole Hwy Eastbound entrance; Westbound exit only
  259 Todd Dr  
  260A-B CTH-D – Fish Hatchery Rd Two Exits Eastbound, One Exit Westbound
  261A US 14 – Oregon Eastbound POV
  261B US 151 – Park St Eastbound POV
  261A-B US 14 east / US 151 north (Park St) – Oregon East end of US 14 and US 151 concurrencies.
  262 Rimrock Rd  
  263 John Nolen Dr  
Monona   264 South Towne Dr  
  265 Monona Dr  
Madison   266 US 51 – Stoughton Rd McFarland use Exit 266
  267A I-39 south / I-90 east – Janesville, Chicago
  267B I-39 south / I-90 west to I-94 west – Wis Dells, Milwaukee  
Door Creek   272 CTH-N – Stoughton, Cottage Grove  

Cambridge to Elkhorn[edit]

County Location Mile km Destinations Notes
Dane Cambridge US 18 east / WIS 134 US 18 West follow US 12 West
Jefferson Oakland CTH-A
Fort Atkinson WIS 26
WIS 89 north / WIS 106 WIS 89 South follow US 12 East
Walworth Whitewater WIS 59 west / WIS 89 south WIS 89 North follow US 12 West
WIS 59 East follow US 12 East
WIS 59 east WIS 59 West follow US 12 West
La Grange WIS 20 / WIS 67 north WIS 67 South follow US 12 East
Elkhorn WIS 67 south WIS 67 South follow US 12 West
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Elkhorn to Genoa City[edit]

County Location Mile #[28] Destinations Notes
Walworth Elkhorn   321A-B I-43 – Beloit, Milwaukee  
  321C CTH-NN – Elkhorn  
Lake Geneva   328 WIS 120 east – Burlington, Lake Geneva  
  330A WIS 50 east – Paddock Lake, Kenosha Eastbound
  330B WIS 50 / WIS 120 – Lake Geneva
  330 A-B WIS 50 / WIS 120 – Lake Geneva, Kenosha Westbound
Pell Lake   335 Pell Lake Rd  


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  11. ^ "Noah's Ark Waterpark Wisconsin Dells". Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  12. ^ "Original Wisconsin Ducks, Wisconsin Dells". Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  13. ^ "Tommy Bartlett Show". Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
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