Flex lane statistics show early success

Since opening in July, the beltline’s flex lane has seen early success.
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 10:38 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Since opening in July, the beltline’s flex lane has seen early success.

During the last three months, the new lane has reduced peak traffic times by 22%.

“We don’t think it’s reached its peak (success),” Wisconsin Department of Transportation southwest region operations chief John Steiner said. “We’re operating out of volume as high as we’ve seen and it’s still operating well. So if the volume continues to grow… we’ll see it maybe decrease a little bit, but it’s still a positive for us to see how much volume we can move through the Beltline.”

The Wisconsin DOT said peak weekday traffic times fall roughly between 7 to 8 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.

Last August, it took nearly 15 minutes to drive across the beltline going both eastbound and westbound.

With addition of the flex lane, it’s shaved off nearly three minutes, dwindling that time down to approximately 12 minutes.

“Our main goal was to get traffic flow and reduce the congestion across the flex lane during the peak times,” Steiner said. “We’re very excited with what we’ve accomplished in that aspect.”

Madison residents like Vincent Stepter said they’ve enjoyed the addition of the flex lane.

But Stepter said he would like to see it extended further.

“When you roll out to Middleton it gets down to two lanes and then I’m like ‘oh, am I ever going to get home?’” Stepter said.

With the winter looming, Steiner said the snowy season will be a trial and error phase for the flex lane.

“We’ll see how it goes this year,” Steiner said. “The first few storms will be really… a learning experience for us and when we go to open it and close it.”

While the flex lane has improved travel times, Steiner said speeding remains a concern.

“It’s a great innovation that we’ve put out there,” Steiner said. “It’s working well for the congestion. We just want everybody to drive safely and obey the speed limits as they go across.”

Steiner said it’s still too early to evaluate crash statistics since the addition of the flex lane.

Early numbers from the Wisconsin DOT show 46 crashes in August of this year. That’s 11 less from last August when there were 57.

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