The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Southwest
Region and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are initiating
the study. WisDOT has hired the consulting firm KL Engineering, Inc.
to assist them with their efforts.
The study limits extend from Terminal Drive/Voges Road in McFarland
to WIS 19 in the Village of DeForest, a distance of approximately 11
miles. The study passes through the City of Madison, the City of
Monona, and the Towns of Blooming Grove and Burke in Dane County. This
study matches the limits of two other WisDOT projects:
US 51, Reardon Road to County V (Grinde Road) – beginning north
of the Highway 19 interchange, WisDOT plans to reconstruct this
segment of US 51 into a 4-lane divided freeway starting in September
US 51 (I-39/90 - US 12/18), Stoughton to McFarland –
beginning directly south of the Terminal Drive/Voges Road
intersection, WisDOT is conducting a long term study to address
safety, congestion and the lack of bicycle and pedestrian facilities
in this 18.4 mile corridor. Alternatives include expansion to 4 lanes
in some areas and a potential bypass of Stoughton. No construction
activities are planned at this time.
The study includes completion of an Environmental Impact Statement
(EIS) and will identify how travel needs can be met as traffic
continues to increase on the east side of Madison through the next
twenty five years (approximately 2040). The EIS will evaluate
potential alternatives, assess their potential impacts, incorporate
public and agency comments, and document the preferred alternative.
An approved EIS is necessary to evaluate and identify the major
improvements that will be necessary for US 51 to provide a safe and
efficient multi-modal facility for the traveling public. In 2003,
WisDOT and FHWA completed a Needs Assessment that showed there are
existing problems with safety, congestion and bicycle and pedestrian
connectivity in the Stoughton Road corridor. In 2004, a second phase
of the study continued to examine the corridor and evaluate potential
alternatives that would address the needs of the corridor. In 2012,
the second phase of study was completed with a corridor-wide analysis
of three alternatives which are detailed in the Traffic, Safety and
Needs Identification Analysis (TSNIA). The current study will further
refine the alternatives of the TSNIA and develop new concepts or
components to address the changes that have occurred in the corridor.
The study will then move the viable alternatives through the EIS
process with the local municipalities and interested stakeholders as
5. How is this phase of the study different from previous phases?
This is an approved capacity expansion study through the Wisconsin
Transportation Projects Commission (TPC). This allows for the
consideration of additional lanes on Stoughton Road. Previously WisDOT
was not authorized to include expansion as an alternative. The TPC
consists of the Governor, three citizen members appointed by the
Governor, five senators, five representatives, and the WisDOT
Secretary (non-voting member). The TPC is responsible for evaluating
the merits of candidate Major Projects and recommending them to the
Governor and Legislature for authorization for construction. A full
range of alternatives will continue to be considered in the EIS.
6. What alternatives were identified in the previous phase of the
Four alternatives have been identified: No Build Alternative –
an option that incorporates infrastructure maintenance. Pavement and
structures are maintained, but there are otherwise no changes to the
current configuration of the corridor.
Alternative A - a Transportation System Management alternative that
includes improvements designed to improve mobility and increase the
safety of several intersections by maximizing the existing
infrastructure. Turn lanes are extended, additional turn lanes added,
and access points restricted, but only one interchange is included.
Alternative B - an Enhanced Expressway alternative has additional
turn lanes at intersections and interchanges at the areas with the
most significant traffic safety and mobility needs.
Alternative C – a Freeway concept with no traffic signals or stop
signs on Stoughton Road from Terminal Drive/Voges Road to WIS 19.
A preferred alternative could be a combination of aspects of all
A major consideration when setting speed limits is the prevailing
or majority speed of drivers. The nationally accepted principle is
that most drivers are cautious, prudent and drive at speeds that are
reasonable and proper for that roadway, regardless of the speed limit.
If speeds are arbitrarily lowered, the majority of drivers will
continue to drive the speed that is reasonable to them. Studies have
shown that vehicle speeds reduce by one fourth of the speed reduction.
So for example, reducing the speed limit from 55 mph to 50 mph will
reduce the average vehicle speed by only 1 mph. Posting speeds lower
or higher than the majority speed has often resulted in an increase in
traffic crashes due to tailgating, improper passing, reckless driving
and excessive weaving. Speed limits are set within 5 mph of the
observed 85th percentile or within 2 mph of the observed average
8. When will one of these alternatives be selected?
The schedule calls for completing the draft EIS (DEIS) in the
Spring of 2013 and the final EIS with a preferred alternative by the
Fall of 2013.
9. When will the public have opportunities to comment on the
alternatives and the study?
As part of the previous Stoughton Road Corridor Studies, three
Public Information Meetings (PIMs) were held along with several
workshops, presentations to stakeholders and agency coordination
meetings which provided opportunities for comment on the purpose and
need of this study. To complete the EIS, three additional PIMs will be
scheduled through the Fall of 2014. The first two PIMs will provide
opportunities to comment on the alternatives. After the alternatives
have been finalized and their impacts evaluated, the DEIS will be
published and available for public comments. A Public Hearing will be
conducted after the DEIS is published. A third PIM will be held after
the preferred alternative has been identified and just prior to the
final EIS (FEIS) being completed. Comments will be taken throughout
the study until it is completed via presentations to local government
committees, neighborhood associations and Stakeholders and
the project website.
10. Who has to approve the preferred alternative that is selected
for the Final EIS?
The alternatives will be presented to local municipalities,
agencies and the public for comment. WisDOT selects a preferred
alternative and seeks the concurrence of the resource agencies. Upon
concurrence, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approves the
preferred alternative. These approvals are sufficient for approval of
the FEIS. However, before a project is built in the Madison area using
federal funds, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board must
include the project in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
The environmental study process will be completed when the FEIS is
signed and a Record of Decision (ROD) is issued by FHWA. However,
final design and construction cannot occur until funding of the
preferred alternative is requested of and enumerated by the TPC.
WisDOT times such requests based on a variety of factors including
highway program priorities, changes to traffic patterns, and safety.
The TPC will then recommend projects that most warrant funding to the
Legislature and the Governor. Only then would WisDOT proceed with
final plans, real estate acquisition, and construction. Short-term
spot improvements identified throughout the process have been and may
continue to be implemented as safety and operational needs arise.
12. When will construction of any preferred alternative on
Stoughton Road be completed?
Short-term operational and safety projects will continue to be done
over the next few years. Because the corridor is 11 miles long and the
scope of the improvements is so great the larger changes represented
in the three alternatives may be implemented in phases and are some
years away. Funds and an improvement schedule have not yet been
committed to and cannot until approved by the TPC.
13. Why are we going through all this planning work when funds have
not been allocated for the larger improvements?
Stoughton Road has long been identified as a corridor with safety
and traffic (including bicycle and pedestrian) mobility issues. The
previous phases of the study have quantified these problems and
provided direction for potential alternatives. With this information,
an analysis of the impacts of potential solutions is needed to develop
the best alternative for the long term needs of the corridor. An EIS
needs to be completed before the project can be enumerated for
construction by the TPC. It is important to have a plan for what is
needed so that as lands develop and redevelop in the corridor, the
possible changes to the roadway can be taken into consideration and
costly relocations minimized.
14. What is the role of transit in handling travel needs in the
Stoughton Road corridor?
Coordination with Metro Transit has been ongoing since the first
phase of the study. The study includes computer modeling to determine
how the existing roadway and proposed alternatives will handle the
demand for travel in the corridor in the future. The traffic
evaluation model included
implementation of the “Locally Preferred Alternative” that emerged
from the Transport 2020 study. Even with this high level of transit
service in the Madison area, the problems identified in the Needs
Assessment are still expected to materialize.
15. How are the proposed alternatives handling the needs of
bicyclists and pedestrians?
All the alternatives provide opportunities for improved bicycle and
pedestrian facilities along and across the corridor. Alternative A
provides safer facilities and crossings for bicyclists and pedestrians
at spot locations. Alternatives B and C include bicycle and pedestrian
accommodations via the proposed interchanges or overpasses. New
grade-separated bicycle/pedestrian facilities are proposed that can be
part of any of the alternatives. WisDOT will continue to work with the
municipalities and neighborhoods in the corridor to determine the most
appropriate and useable bicycle and pedestrian solutions once a
preferred alternative is chosen for the highway. Some of the
improvements will be included in the construction projects. Other
improvements may require implementation as part of other projects by
the local municipalities or participating agencies.
16. Is the study considering the impact of the alternatives on the
neighborhoods along the corridor?
The EIS is considering neighborhood impacts. One of the findings of
the Needs Assessment is that the neighborhoods are concerned with the
amount of cut-through traffic on local streets. The alternatives look
to address this problem by improving travel conditions on Stoughton
Road. Under any scenario, balancing the issues and needs of both the
neighborhoods and the highway users is important. WisDOT will continue
to seek input from the local neighborhood groups on design aspects for
17. Will noise barriers be included in the alternatives?
The EIS will include an analysis of sound levels. If the Noise
Level Criteria (NLC) are approached or exceeded, a noise impact
occurs. The NLC for residential land use is 67 decibels (dBA) or when
predicted future sound levels exceed existing levels by 15 dBA. If
there is an impact, the study will determine whether or not abatement
is feasible, reasonable and likely to be incorporated. Reasonable
refers to the maximum barrier cost ($30,000) per impacted parcels
benefiting from the noise mitigation (receptors). Feasible refers to
whether the barrier can provide at least an eight (8) dBA reduction in
noise and other constructability issues. Noise barriers that are
determined to be reasonable and feasible must receive a vote of
support from a simple majority of all votes cast by the owners and
residents of the benefitted receptors.
18. How do the alternatives address the needs of businesses along
The EIS will evaluate the impact of all the alternatives on the
businesses along the corridor. The study team recognizes that
Stoughton Road serves one of Madison’s most important industrial
areas, as well as defined areas of medical services, retail,
commercial, and office businesses. Business information meetings were
held as part of the second phase of the study and will continue. In
addition, the study team has met and will continue to meet with
individual businesses at their request.
19. How can I get involved in the process and stay involved?
A local officials and stakeholders database will be developed and
include local officials, business groups, community groups, and
property owners within 1,000 feet of the highway. The list will be used
to send letters and meeting notices to project stakeholders. In
addition, to receive updates and notices via email sign up
project distribution list.