Drivers will have an easier time getting to Fitchburg's east side from the Beltline, as a new thoroughfare at U.S. Highway 14 and Lacy Road has opened in Fitchburg.
Fitchburg Mayor Shawn Pfaff and other city leaders were on hand Thursday to officially open the new exit on Lacy Road. The mayor described the interchange as a gateway to a distinct, lively, bike-friendly community called Uptown.
Pfaff said Uptown, a new 450-acre development, will help distinguish Fitchburg from other communities and help make it more of a destination for businesses and families.
"This is a fantastic location. The Capitol is literally minutes from here. One of the greatest universities is just minutes away. This will open up eastern Fitchburg and southern Dane County," Pfaff said.
Those in the community said they are excited about Uptown and the opening of the interchange.
"It really plays up Fitchburg's proximity to the rest of Madison and how convenient we are to everything. Once people see that, they'll all want to be here, too," said Barbara Rottman, a volunteer for Friends of the Fitchburg Library.
The volunteers are preparing for the library's annual book sale this Friday and Saturday.
Rottman said it took 20 years before the library was built. Just like the library, she said the gateway will be worth the wait.
"This gives us a chance to have a community center and a place where people feel they are in Fitchburg," Rottman said.
The new roadway is environmentally friendly and features a bike path called a cycle track. With this new 450-acre development, the mayor said that Fitchburg is turning the page toward a brighter economic future.
"It's going to take us time, but we're in for the long run. It took 15 years to get here. We're patient but we're hungry," Pfaff said.
A 150-unit apartment building is underway and Meriter is planning a new clinic in the area.
Fitchburg's mayor said he is visualizing a development like Greenway Station in Middleton.
The roadway cost about $19 million. The mayor said it will cut down the commute for families in the area and encourage growth for Fitchburg and the surrounding communities.