Flex Lanes have cut Beltline travel times by 30%, WisDOT says

MADISON, Wis. — If it feels like you’re spending less time on the Beltline, it’s because you probably are.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, average travel times on the Beltline have improved by more than 30% in the past two months since the Flex Lanes were introduced — even though traffic volume on the Beltline has risen in that time.

That has led to traffic largely flowing freely, even during peak travel times. The Department of Transportation told News 3 Now that means drivers are now saving an average of 10 to 15 minutes on their commutes that were previously spent sitting in slow-moving traffic backups.

WisDOT said the new lanes have also made travel on the Beltline more consistent. In the first two months, travel time reliability improved by about 30% compared to July and August of last year.

“With the Flex Lane, we are alleviating congestion on the Beltline, which enhances safety and mobility for drivers who use it every day for work or business,” Department of Transportation secretary Craig Thompson said in a news release Wednesday.

While traffic appears to be moving more freely, some have reached out to News 3 Now expressing concern that traffic is also moving faster — something that was noted by Madison police earlier this week when they said they clocked several people going faster than 100 mph, including one that registered 131 mph on the radar gun.

Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett echoed those sentiments in a release provided by the Department of Transportation.

“It’s not a passing lane and it’s definitely not a speed lane,” Barrett said in a statement. “Please be sure to follow the directions on the signs because those signs let drivers know of what could be coming up.”

RELATED: ‘Beltline Bob’ shares thoughts on Flex Lane’s first day

The new lanes opened in July to a mixture of fanfare and skepticism. The project is intended to decrease traffic congestion by opening up the left-hand shoulder to drivers during rush hour.

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