Flex Lane operation in Wisconsin

​​The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) implemented the state's first Flex Lane along US 12/18 – commonly known as the Beltline – in Dane County. The Flex Lane is located on the Beltline between the Whitney Way exit and the I-39/90 interchange in Madison.

The Flex Lane is one solution to improving transportation in the Madison area. WisDOT is collaborating with local stakeholders to examine all modes of transportation connected to the Beltline. Among the items being studied are improved transit, pedestrian and bicycle connections, park and ride connections, and new crossings and connections.

What is the Flex Lane?

The Flex Lane uses the inside median shoulders on a highway as an additional travel lane during peak traffic periods, typically during weekday morning and afternoon rush hours. Signs over the lane indicate when the lane is open (green arrow) or closed (red X). A yellow X means drivers should merge right as the lane is closing soon. The Flex Lane is separated from the adjacent lane by one solid yellow line. Shoulder use is limited to specific times of day based on traffic volumes and special events.

Known nationally as dynamic part-time shoulder use, 17 states have implemented the concept including neighboring states: Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio. Each state has found success with better travel time reliability and safer highways.

Read some frequently asked questions about the Flex Lane​.​

The Flex Lane is an innovative solution to ease backups during the busiest times and provide reliability for motorists who use it every day for work or business. It provides a safe, cost-effective solution to address periodic and recurring congestion without the need to expand the​ highway beyond its current footprint.


For more information, contact:

WisDOT Southwest Region Office
(608) 246-3800, swr.dtsd@dot.wi.gov