Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Madison Beltline Study
Middleton-Cottage Grove, Dane County

Madison Beltline Study logo

View SW, Madison Beltline Study, in Dane County in a larger map.
Map key - Thick orange line is the project overview/location. Blue tear drop with dot in center is the project limit.

Location | Overview | Status/phase

View Nov. and Dec. PIM info. and documents - Presenting the preliminary findings of how various transportation strategies may address Beltline needs.

Spring 2014 - Local meetings presentation

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Study overview video

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 highways.
  • Dane County is on pace to add about 150,000 residents by 2035, 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 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. WisDOT decided to use a three part study process.

  • The first part of this process, begun 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 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.


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

SSI - Contacts Questions about the content of this page, contact:
Madison Beltline Study Team, madisonbeltline@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: November 14, 2014

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