US 51 Corridor Study (Stoughton to McFarland)

Project location | Project overview | Study background | Schedule | Planned improvements | Status/phase | Newsletters/others | Contact information

Project location

US 51, I-39/90 (east of Stoughton) to US 12/18 (Beltline) north of McFarland, in Dane County

Project overview

  • The US 51 Environmental Assessment (EA) study will address corridor needs, including improving safety, pavement condition, traffic operations, and bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.
  • The US 51 study corridor is an important regional and commuter route between Stoughton and McFarland and serves as an important link to the Madison area and beyond.
  • Alternative H has been identified as the preferred alternative, or official long-term plan, for the corridor.

Study background

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was completed for the corridor at the end of 2013 but was not published due to federal fiscal constraint requirements. The federal fiscal constraint requirement applied to WisDOT environmental studies requires funding for the next major action to advance the project within a reasonable timeframe. Based on statewide priorities, it was determined that the US 51 corridor alternatives proposed in the DEIS would not receive funding for the next major action to advance the project. 

Options were investigated to fund a fiscally constrained improvement project that would address the existing safety, operations, and pavement issues on the corridor while still addressing the purpose and need of the study. It was determined that the most effective course of action was to modify the existing DEIS into two separate environmental documents: an EA to address near-term corridor needs and a Tier 1 EIS that would address long-term corridor needs.

In December 2015, WisDOT proposed the removal of the Tiered EIS process from the US 51 study documentation because funding for Tier 1 EIS improvements is not anticipated within the planning horizon. It could be 30+ years before improvements recommended in the Tier 1 EIS might align with funding. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) agreed to removal of the Tier 1 EIS from the study in February 2016.

In March 2016 it was determined that due to statewide priorities and funding limitations the US 51 project would not be able to obtain funding for final design and construction in 2016. As a result of the project funding delay, the completion of the study had been postponed.

In the spring of 2019 WisDOT resumed the study. WisDOT now anticipates the US 51 project will be funded for final design and construction in the fall of 2020. If the project is funded in the fall of 2020, the earliest WisDOT anticipates construction of the preferred alternative to occur on the corridor is the mid 2020s.

The study team will continue to refine the preliminary design to obtain a more accurate assessment of the impacts for the preferred alternative and will provide periodic updates and coordinate with interested parties, local officials, agencies, and committees.


For more information on Public Involvement Meetings (PIM), hearings and other public activities, visit Public involvement.


Current (this year)

  • Continue to update the EA
  • Meetings with interested parties and local officials

Future (next year and beyond)

  • Spring 2020 - EA available for public review
  • Spring 2020 - Public Hearing for EA
  • Summer 2020 - Prepare Final EA
  • Fall 2020 - EA/anticipated Finding of No Significant Impact Signed

Past (anything prior to today)



2006 and older

  • May 19/20, 2006 - PIMs
  • February 2005-2008 - WisDOT studied alternatives for addressing problems identified in Needs Assessment (NA) and initiated environmental studies
  • April 2005 - Alternatives solutions workshop
  • January 2004 - PIM
  • February 2004-early 2003 - NA workshops

Planned improvements

WisDOT and others have several projects in the development phase (Programmed Projects) that will enhance the function of US 51 until the construction of Environmental Assessment improvements are scheduled.


  • The EA will document the development of alternatives that will address corridor needs that are anticipated to meet the federal fiscal constraint requirement. There is no scheduled construction activity.


Contact information

Jeff Berens, WisDOT Planning Engineer
(608) 245-2656

Michael Bie, WisDOT Southwest Region Communications Manager
(608) 246-7928

Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)
Southwest Region, Madison Office
2101 Wright Street
Madison, WI 53704
Phone: (608) 246-3800
Fax: (608) 246-3843
TTY: 711