TRAFFIC STUDY: Wisconsin DOT studying Beltline Highway ahead of expected population surge

Dane County expected to boom with 150,000 new residents by 2030

September 19, 2013

With substantial growth expected in Madison and the greater Dane County area in the coming decades, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) has begun exploring options for improving traffic flow on the Beltline Highway.


The latest data projections show Dane County adding 150,000 new residents by 2030, with Beltline traffic soaring to 160,000 vehicles per day. In addition to motorist traffic, 36 bus routes travel the highway daily, plus freight travel (valued at $14.2 billion in 2011). It is by far the busiest roadway in the county.


WisDOT started studying area traffic in 2012 with the help of Skycomp, a company specializing in collecting traffic data. Some ideas that have emerged from initial study results include:

  • New routes parallel to the Beltline for bicycles and pedestrians. This strategy may or may not be feasible due to intersection designs or the absence of parallel connections;

  • Building as many as three new highways corridors—one between Middleton and Sun Prairie, one between Verona and McFarland, and one running along the Madison Isthmus;

  • Creating some sort of rail system for the Madison area. The layout of city streets and the presence of so many bodies of water makes this option a challenge, though.

WisDOT expect to finish the study sometime in the next few years, with an eye toward implementing any traffic-control strategies around 2020.