DOT officials hear driver concerns about Beltline shoulder lane proposal

MADISON (WKOW) — The Department of Transportation has plans for traffic on the Beltline, and the agency asked the public for input Wednesday night.

“We want to hear what their questions are, what their concerns are, and maybe there’s a strategy that we haven’t thought about that we can consider either for this or another project moving forward,” said Brandon Lamers, major studies supervisor for the DOT Southwest Region.

There are two proposals for the stretch between Seminole Highway and I-39/90. One would resurface the road, adding median and drainage improvements. The other would do those things plus add an additional lane next to the median that could open during rush hour.

“If we open up another lane, yeah we have it, but 10 years from now are we going to have to expand the Beltline?” said Tom Wilson, one of dozens of people at Wednesday night’s public meeting.

Wilson is also on the city’s Transportation and Policy Planning Board, so he’s heard ideas like this before.

“That always leads to the same conclusion,” he said. “The next time we look at it, it has to be wider lanes, more lanes, higher speeds. What are we looking at to maybe go the other direction?”

Wilson asked about future plans for improved mass transit so there are fewer cars on the Beltline. Others asked about new lane sizes, where semis can go, why the lane will only be installed in a certain stretch and more.

The DOT says it’s glad it is hearing those questions and concerns now so that it can implement them as the design and planning process continues. Officials stressed that the road needs to be fixed now, and they hope to get the most out of their money when they start the work.

“There’s an immediate pavement need,” Lamers said. “And with what we’re doing, this is a great strategy to try to help maximize that investment.”

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