Flex Lane opening day set for Wednesday

Wisconsin’s first Flex Lane is nearly here, promising a little relief for rush hour drivers along a stretch of the Beltline.
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 1:07 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 11, 2022 at 9:04 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin’s first Flex Lane is nearly here, promising a little relief for rush hour drivers along a stretch of the Beltline. The Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation announced the bonus lanes will officially open on Wednesday.

The Flex Lanes are designed to be used during peak traffic times and stretch from Whitney Way to the I-39/90 interchange. Planners expect the additional lane will allow drivers to navigate the beltline more smoothly and avoid congestion.

“This will improve daily life for commuters, as well as visitors attending major area events,” WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said. “It’s one more way WisDOT is making Wisconsin’s highways safer and more reliable for everyone who uses them.”

As Thompson indicated, designers expect the lanes to be used outside of rush hour, as well. They foresee the lanes being activated during special events and when traffic starts to bottleneck because of an incident or accident ahead. A green arrow will let drivers know that the lane is open.

The Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation announced the bonus lanes will officially open on Wednesday.

Whenever the Flex Lane is not in use, a red ‘X’ will shine over it. At those times, the lane should only be used for emergency stopping, WisDOT states. The agency set up 40 cameras and sensors along the Beltline to view traffic conditions in real time and decide when to activate the additional lane.

“It’s a new concept for us. It’s not a new concept nationally,” Randy Hoyt, the state traffic management supervisor, said. “We’ve been going through every scenario that we can think of in preparation of it.”

He said officials have been taking safety cues from other states with similar programs, like Michigan, Ohio and Colorado.

If there is a disabled car on the Flex Lane itself, Hoyt said yellow will signal drivers to merge right two signs before the red ‘X’ marking the scene of the emergency stop.

“Now, of course, there’s going to be some [scenarios] that we haven’t rehearsed for, but I like to think that my staff is well suited to be able to react to those conditions through their training,” Hoyt said.

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