Tag Archives: Madison WI Beltline Construction

“We Must Not Accept Complacency”

   On an historic day, when the Club returned to the Park Hotel for the first time in more than a year of pandemic isolation, our speaker was fellow Rotarian Jason Fields. Jason is the new president of the Madison Regional Economic Partnership. He spoke on the topic “We Must Not Accept Complacency.” The title derives from his belief that Madison is a great place to live and work, but his mission is to give his all for everyone he deals with, always. And he construes economic development to mean “to empower people.” All people. He is motivated by the question that his wife asked him: “Yes, Madison is a great place. But for who?” He briefly referred to the statistics we all know, that Wisconsin has huge disparities between its White and Black populations. He and his wife were themselves discriminated against while seeking a home here as they move from Milwaukee. This is never acceptable. Beyond the immorality of it, we have to send a message that this will not be tolerated if we really want to be competitive in attracting talent.

   Jason mentioned several issues that MadRep will be working on. One is broadband, which is not evenly available in the state, in rural areas and among minority populations. He will also be addressing the problem of unequal access to capital by various populations. A fund is being created. There is also a tension between Milwaukee and Madison that is unnecessary and harmful to development here and should be eliminated. We should unlearn Midwest modesty and learn to brag about ourselves to attract talent from Minnesota, Illinois, and the world. Another problem we face: We tend to “sacrifice progress to perfection.” Task forces talk, and nothing gets done. There has to be a sense of urgency.

   Jason is a man of diverse experiences. He has been a politician, a financial adviser, a banker, a radio show host, and a podcaster. He is a dynamic speaker. A man with passion and an idealism disciplined by reality. He will be a valuable member of the Club and the community.

   Our thanks to Jason Fields for his presentation this week and to Rich Leffler for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:  https://youtu.be/LBCqc9c_bcE.      

Discussion on Updates to Madison’s Beltline

–submitted by Mary Helen Becker; photo by Loretta Himmelsbach

Barta Lynch 4 29 15

Two experts explained the planning and strategy for beltline improvements and changes on April 29. The first to speak, Larry Barta, has worked with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for 31 years. He has managed improvement projects and corridor studies in all District One counties, including managing the expansion and relocation of 38 miles of I-39 from Dickeyville to Dodgeville. He began by noting that the most efficient traffic plan is the grid. In Madison, because of the lakes, we have a wheel, with heavy traffic on the “spokes” of that wheel. The beltline, which is under major reconstruction at this time, is very important and has several problems that need attention, including too many crashes, bottlenecks, and its age — it is simply too old. Half of the traffic exits are just 4 interchanges. New corridors on the northside of the city, including the North Mendota Parkway and a Waunakee corridor are important. Each day the Verona Road section handles 125,000 vehicles a day. An alternate route between Verona Road and I-90, south of the city, has been suggested, but the cost and impact make it impractical method of removing traffic. Alternate modes of transportation including bus rapid transit, express routes and commuter rail are being considered. Commuter rail through the isthmus and out University Avenue could remove some traffic from the Beltline. The DOT is working with Madison Metro, a separate entity, to plan improvements.

The second speaker, Tom Lynch, has been with Strand Associates for 23 years. He focuses on major corridor studies and environmental impact studies. He discussed “scenario” planning and explained “Madison in Motion” and the Sustainable Transportation Master Plan, including current plans and trends. Bus rapid transit and beltline bus riders could reduce beltline volume. Studying how people travel is important. Increasing use of public transit and bike use could be significant on the isthmus, but less so on the beltline.  The issue is important to all citizens and is being studied and addressed.