Flex lane on Beltline receives regional America’s Transportation Award

The flex lane on Madison’s Beltline has received a regional America’s Transportation Award for operations excellence from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Since opening in July 2022, Wisconsin’s first flex lane has been recognized by local, state, and now national organizations as an innovative approach to keep traffic flowing on one of the state’s critical urban highways.

Located on U.S. 12/18 between Whitney Way and the I-39/90 interchange in Dane County, the flex lane has significantly decreased travel times during peak Beltline hours – up to a 45% reduction. It increases capacity without increasing the highway’s footprint. Preliminary analysis of crash data indicates more than a 20% decrease in total crashes along the Beltline over the first year of flex lane operations compared to pre-pandemic conditions.

Typically open during morning and afternoon rush hours, the flex lane uses the inside median shoulder as an additional travel lane. WisDOT staff continually monitor the flex lane to determine best practices based on the traffic performance data.

The flex lane will now be entered into the competition’s “Top 12” projects across the nation, which will be announced in early September. Sponsored by AASHTO, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the America’s Transportation Awards competition recognizes projects and programs across the nation that make their communities better places to live, work, and play. The awards focus on getting more out of the existing system; implementing new technologies and innovations; and projects that improve overall quality of life and enhance community development.