1. Worsening mobility problems
in Dane Countys primary regional center - the central area of Madison that includes
the citys commercial core, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and major special
events destinations - threatens to damage the regions high quality of life and the
regional centers ability to absorb desirable residential and commercial growth.
- Traffic congestion is a growing problem in the region and
in the study corridor, especially in the Isthmus and nearby areas.
- Forecasts for 2020 indicate that mobility problems in the
study area will worsen over the next two decades, again, especially in the Isthmus.
- The current Dane County regional plan foresees even more
growth being centered in the Isthmus, with 14,000 new jobs and 4,500 new units being added
- Although Madison Metro provides intensive service in
central Madison, mobility options are more limited - or sometimes nonexistent - in
outlying parts of the corridor and in the region.
|2. Because of geographical
constraints, potential environmental concerns and major quality-of-life issues, the
possibility of addressing the areas transportation problems through roadway capacity
expansion is very limited.
- Because the central area of the study corridor is nearly
built out - or contains sensitive environmental uses such as parks or bodies of water -
there is no opportunity to build major new roadways.
- Widening of major arterials would likewise be very
difficult or impossible because of potentially serious impacts to residential
neighborhoods and successful commercial areas.
- Similarly, physical constraints (as well as the
desirability of devoting land to other, more economically productive uses) mean that
creating more parking facilities in the core area is also problematic.
- Major operational changes, such as creating more one-way
arterials to increase capacity, would also be difficult or impossible because of the
potential impact on neighborhoods or commercial areas.
- Likewise, such operational improvements as prohibiting
parking at peak periods for cars or express buses (in areas without such
restrictions now) could face strong opposition because of their impacts on traffic speeds
and business parking needs.
- Despite the lack of opportunity for major capacity
expansion through new or widened roadways, however, there may be opportunities for
operational gains such as intersection improvements or traffic signal coordination, that
will be included in a transportation system management (TSM) option, and programs to
reduce automobile usage that will be included in transportation demand management (TDM)
|3. Given the growing
mobility challenges, coupled with the very limited opportunity for highway capacity
expansion to address them, a potentially promising alternative is investment in express
transit, both to supplement and enhance existing Metro service and to extend service to
new markets throughout the corridor and in the region. Possible options that will be
analyzed in the study include:
- Rail transit. This includes diesel- or electric-powered
trains operating on existing rail rights-of-way and/or electric-powered trains running on
existing city streets in central areas of the corridor. Rail options in the corridor,
linked with park-and-ride facilities, have the potential to serve the wider region. (Rail
service for longer-distance markets is often referred to as "commuter rail,"
while electric-powered trains that are similar to streetcars are often called light-rail
transit or LRT. However, the core market of both is the standard, Monday-Friday,
downtown-based commuter market.)
- Bus rapid transit (BRT). This serves the same markets as
rail transit using buses that travel in mixed traffic on existing roadways or that achieve
time savings by using transit-only facilities such as bus-only lanes on streets (diamond
lanes) or new roads built exclusively for buses (busways).