WisDOT considers opening Beltline shoulder lanes during peak travel times

Published: Jul. 22, 2019 at 11:30 AM CDT
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The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is considering improvements to the Madison Beltline that include opening some shoulder lanes to traffic.

At a public meeting on Wednesday evening, WisDOT presented the alternatives they are considering for upgrades to the Beltline.

Brandon Lamers, the Wisconsin DOT Southwest Region Major Studies Supervisor, said no decision has been made on what to do.

"We have the two alternatives and we would like to make a decision to address those pavement needs," said Lamers.

One option includes resurfacing the pavement, making drainage improvements, and replacing median barrier walls.

"The existing infrastructure is in need of repair," Lamers said. "We want to try and help more of that storm water get off the lane sooner so that it's safe for the vehicles to continue to travel on the Beltline."

The other option would include all the mentioned repair needs and expand the median shoulders so drivers can use them as travel lanes. Those lanes would be only be open during peak travel hours.

"The volume that's out there today already exceeds what you would typically have in three general purpose lanes," Lamers said.

Anne Altstatt used to spend most of her commute along the Beltline but now she says she avoids it, especially during rush hour.

"Increasing the lanes during peak time would improve my travel time until the roads just get filled up again," said Altstatt. "So I see the whole plan right now as just being a temporary solution for where we’re going five years ten years I don’t think this is going to do it."

Officials said the added capacity would improve mobility and safety between I-39/90 and Whitney Way. This section currently handles 120,000 vehicles per day. Changeable message signs would be used to indicate when the shoulder is available for use.

According to WisDOT, the part-time shoulder use practice is in at least 17 states.

Officials believe the changes could be implemented as early as 2021.

To voice your own opinion or ask questions, head over to the Wisconsin DOT