Madison Beltline Study

Project location | Project overview | Project schedule | Status/phase | Contact information

Project location

The Madison Beltline (US 12, 14, 18 and US 151) Study limits extend along 19 miles of US 12, from US 14 in Middleton to County N in Cottage Grove, in Dane County

Project overview

  • The Beltline was originally constructed in the 1950s as a 2-lane rural highway bypassing downtown Madison. Since then, it has been steadily evolving and improving to meet growing local and regional transportation needs.
  • As a principal arterial highway that is fed by nearly every other major route in southwest Wisconsin, as well as numerous major local and county roads, the Beltline is used by a significant portion of local and regional travelers in the Madison urban area.
  • The Beltline is also a primary long truck route, and the portion from Verona Road to I-39/90 is part of the Wisconsin Backbone System.
  • The Beltline links southwest Wisconsin to the nation, and provides an important connection between neighborhoods, businesses, communities, and regions.
  • Madison and surrounding community residents use the Beltline daily to travel to jobs, school, retail, businesses and home.



  • Today, the Beltline is a multi-lane urban freeway passing through neighborhoods, natural areas and business districts.
  • Numerous sections of the Beltline have crash rates higher than the state average for similar urban highways in Wisconsin.
  • According to Wisconsin's Department of Administration, Dane County is on pace to add about 120,000 residents between 2010 and 2040; there is no capacity remaining on the Beltline to serve this growth.
  • The Beltline can be difficult for bicycles and pedestrians to cross, creating a barrier for alternative transportation. Unreliable travel times reduce its value as a dependable route for transit.

Study background

Given the existing conditions, anticipated county growth rate and other significant factors, in November of 2011 Wisconsin’s Transportation Projects Commission authorized the study of long term solutions for the Madison Beltline from US 14 in Middleton to County N in Cottage Grove. WisDOT decided to use a three part study process.

  • The first part of this process, began in 2012, collected and analyzed origin-destination (O-D) information for motorized vehicles on the Beltline and in the surrounding Dane County area.
  • The second part, began in 2013, is a Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) Study.
  • The final part is a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study. It will begin upon the successful completion of the PEL Study.

Project schedule

Learn more about upcoming public involvement meetings under public involvement.


Study - Long term planning with no construction activity at this time.

Contact information

Robert Knorr, P.E., WisDOT Major Studies Group Project Manager
(608) 246-5444

Steven Theisen, WisDOT Project Communications Manager
(608) 884-1230

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

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