Transportation Alternatives Analysis
for the
Dane County / Greater Madison
Metropolitan Area




What's New

Implementation Task Force
Begins Work in Dec 2003
Transport 2020 RFP Issued


Summary Report of OAC

Final Consultant Report
City Resolution

Study Info

Problem Statement

 Goals & Objectives

Study Corridor



Task Force Members



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1.  Worsening mobility problems in Dane Countys primary regional center - the central area of Madison that includes the citys commercial core, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and major special events destinations - threatens to damage the regions high quality of life and the regional centers ability to absorb desirable residential and commercial growth.

  • Traffic congestion is a growing problem in the region and in the study corridor, especially in the Isthmus and nearby areas.
  • Forecasts for 2020 indicate that mobility problems in the study area will worsen over the next two decades, again, especially in the Isthmus.
  • The current Dane County regional plan foresees even more growth being centered in the Isthmus, with 14,000 new jobs and 4,500 new units being added by 2020.
  • Although Madison Metro provides intensive service in central Madison, mobility options are more limited - or sometimes nonexistent - in outlying parts of the corridor and in the region.
2.  Because of geographical constraints, potential environmental concerns and major quality-of-life issues, the possibility of addressing the areas transportation problems through roadway capacity expansion is very limited.
  • Because the central area of the study corridor is nearly built out - or contains sensitive environmental uses such as parks or bodies of water - there is no opportunity to build major new roadways.
  • Widening of major arterials would likewise be very difficult or impossible because of potentially serious impacts to residential neighborhoods and successful commercial areas.
  • Similarly, physical constraints (as well as the desirability of devoting land to other, more economically productive uses) mean that creating more parking facilities in the core area is also problematic.
  • Major operational changes, such as creating more one-way arterials to increase capacity, would also be difficult or impossible because of the potential impact on neighborhoods or commercial areas.
  • Likewise, such operational improvements as prohibiting parking at peak periods for cars or express buses (in areas without such restrictions now) could face strong opposition because of their impacts on traffic speeds and business parking needs.
  • Despite the lack of opportunity for major capacity expansion through new or widened roadways, however, there may be opportunities for operational gains such as intersection improvements or traffic signal coordination, that will be included in a transportation system management (TSM) option, and programs to reduce automobile usage that will be included in transportation demand management (TDM) strategies.
3.  Given the growing mobility challenges, coupled with the very limited opportunity for highway capacity expansion to address them, a potentially promising alternative is investment in express transit, both to supplement and enhance existing Metro service and to extend service to new markets throughout the corridor and in the region. Possible options that will be analyzed in the study include:
  • Rail transit. This includes diesel- or electric-powered trains operating on existing rail rights-of-way and/or electric-powered trains running on existing city streets in central areas of the corridor. Rail options in the corridor, linked with park-and-ride facilities, have the potential to serve the wider region. (Rail service for longer-distance markets is often referred to as "commuter rail," while electric-powered trains that are similar to streetcars are often called light-rail transit or LRT. However, the core market of both is the standard, Monday-Friday, downtown-based commuter market.)
  • Bus rapid transit (BRT). This serves the same markets as rail transit using buses that travel in mixed traffic on existing roadways or that achieve time savings by using transit-only facilities such as bus-only lanes on streets (diamond lanes) or new roads built exclusively for buses (busways).



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