Madison Beltline Study - Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is a PEL Study?

Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) is a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) initiative that focuses on shortening project delivery time by improving the efficiency of the process.

This is achieved by reducing duplication of effort, collaborative decision making, and maximizing the use of information developed in planning in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process that will follow the successful completion of the PEL Study.

What is NEPA?

NEPA stands for National Environmental Policy Act. This Federal act was signed into law on January 1, 1970. It describes a process Federal agencies are required to follow to evaluate the effects of road improvements, construction, and park and forest management projects, with the potential to profoundly impact the Nations’ landscape and environment.

The NEPA environmental analysis for the Beltline will be a detailed investigation of all strategies developed in the PEL Study that have the potential to address Beltline objectives. Those potential strategies will be refined as needed to improve the extent to which they solve Beltline issues and to minimize and mitigate impacts and cost.

What are the benefits of a PEL study?

A PEL Study sets up early collaboration between federal, state, and environmental agencies, local municipalities and interested or potentially affected stakeholders. This early and extensive coordination helps to ensure all issues are fully understood and all possible solutions identified are evaluated. These actions combine to improve stakeholder buy-in of the recommendations. A PEL Study can also eliminate unreasonable alternatives earlier in the process, reduce duplication of environmental review, and may identify fatal flaws to be avoided by all solutions that are developed.

In the end, a PEL Study helps to improve the efficiency of the overall environmental study process, reducing both the total study time and the total review costs, study delivery and the review costs.

Why is this Beltline study being conducted?

Given the existing conditions, anticipated county growth rate and other significant factors, in Nov. 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.

The study will focus on improving safety and mobility for all modes of travel while reducing congestion.

What Beltline statistics are there?

View Beltline statistics.

What are the Beltline issues?

From 2008 to 2012 many sections of the Beltline had crash rates higher than the state average when compared to similar types of highways. Most sections carry more traffic than can be efficiently accommodated.

Motorists that would prefer to use the Beltline are increasingly using alternate routes during and evening peak travel periods including the neighborhood street network instead. 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 residual capacity on the Beltline to serve this growth.

The Beltline presents a barrier to bicycle and pedestrians that need to cross. Unreliable travel times reduce the value of the Beltline as a dependable route for transit.

The Beltline bridges and pavement are aging and deteriorating. Some features, such as ramps and shoulders, do not meet the current design standards. Replacement of the existing facility will be needed in the future just to address these issues.

Are there opportunities for public input? When and where?

Yes, there will be numerous opportunities for public involvement and input throughout the PEL Study process and the NEPA Study process.

  • You are encouraged to visit this website for updates. The website provides comprehensive information about the study, details opportunities for involvement, provides a sign up page to receive project updates via email, and has contact information for the study team.
  • Public Involvement Meetings (PIM) will be conducted at several points during the PEL study at various locations throughout the project area. Numerous smaller meetings will be held with local municipalities, neighborhood associations, business groups, etc. during the course of the study. These will continue to be held throughout the NEPA process that is expected to follow the PEL.
  • WisDOT welcomes project comments/suggestions. Please give us your comments/suggestions on this project, the project goals, transportation issues, study objectives and preliminary alternatives. Thank you for your interest and assistance with this important project.

These input opportunities will be announced on the project website as well as through local news media and advertising. Study team members can be reached individually by email, telephone and Facebook at any time.

Is WisDOT working with local communities on the PEL Study?

Yes. Various workgroups have been formed to ensure local community representatives, as well as state and federal agency representatives, are a part of the study process.

Is there any construction associated with the PEL Study?

No, there is no construction associated with the study.

Upon successful completion of the NEPA analysis, the Transportation Projects Commission (TPC) will have to decide whether and when to fund the design and construction of the preferred alternative(s)recommended at the end of the NEPA study process.

Will this study result in more lanes being added to the Beltline?

As part of the Beltline PEL Study, all options and solutions that might address current and future Beltline deficiencies will be investigated. Adding more lanes to the Beltline is likely to be one of those options.

This study will also look at corridors other than the Beltline, other modes of transportation, and the Beltline corridor itself.

Will the study consider all modes of transportation?

Yes, the study will evaluate potential improvements to other modes of ground transportation as individual strategies or as part of a group of improvements to determine whether, and to what extent, each helps address the existing Beltline issues and accommodate future growth in the Madison area.

How will bicycle and pedestrian needs be taken into consideration?

Improvements to bicycle and pedestrian facilities, improving or adding crossings and increasing route connectivity along and across the Beltline will be analyzed as part of each potential solution.

When will the improvements be built?

Construction of improvements recommended as a solution to the Beltline issues cannot be considered until the PEL and NEPA studies are completed, which is estimated to be around 2020. At that point, it could be recommended to the Transportation Projects Commission for funding of final design and construction.

Will the Verona and Stoughton Road projects be a part of this study?

These are two of a number of WisDOT planning studies and construction projects underway in Dane County. Collectively, they will address area transportation needs as compatibly and cost effectively as possible.

Improvements to both Stoughton Road and Verona Road, near the Beltline, will be adopted into the Beltline PEL Study so that improvements constructed with each study/project complement each other.