Madison, Wisconsin boasts a population of over 500,000 people, many of which work in the downtown district and surrounding areas defined as the ‘Isthmus.’ Whether you work downtown, near the suburbs, on the East, or West side of Madison, the key routes include the Hwy 12/18 ‘Beltline’ and several highly-used routes in between. Unless you have law enforcement connections, most of today’s car-installed GPS devices cannot predict an oncoming road obstruction (yet), or traffic mishap.
Today’s Madison commuter must rely on common sense and judgment when it comes to traffic woes and hassles. Commuters bravely share the roads with thousands of others, often experiencing the shared frustration, anxiety, and stress of an influx of cars. Does it really take 20 minutes to travel 10 miles in Madison? For the after 5 p.m., and before 8 a.m. crowds, it sure does! Madison’s key routes from one side of town to the other are usually a jumbled medley of cars, buses, and bikers anxious to end the workday and start the evening.
Limiting and reducing your stress levels during your commute is still possible. Listening to music, a book on tape, or motivational CD can help create some constructive time.
You can also take the extra step to avoid these particular routes completely:
• change your departure time by leaving a half hour earlier from home, and then work (if possible); you can save up to 10 minutes per direction (20 minutes total) of driving time per day by doing this!
• Tune into your shower-installed radio for traffic updates on breakdowns, accidents, and weather-related incidences: plan ahead!
To get to your destination in the shortest time possible, here are some effective tips as a guide for routes that may actually get you home faster. The following destinations and pathways are indicated as such their peak times. Research for this sample was conducted over a period of two weeks during the school year, to accommodate for school buses and metro bus traffic on campus. Times were logged for highest frequency of traffic and slowest transit times. Bolded routes signify heaviest traffic overall.
Downtown to Middleton
Busiest a.m. roads and time: University Avenue between 7:45 a.m. – 8:10 a.m; Beltline Hwy 12/18 7:45 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.
Busiest p.m. roads and time: University Ave. between 5:10 p.m. – 5: 30 p.m. ; Beltline Hwy 12/18 5 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
Downtown to West:
Busiest a.m. roads and time: University Ave. between 7:45 a.m. – 8:10 a.m.; Mineral Point Rd/Regent St.: 7:55 a.m. – 8: 15 a.m.; Beltline Hwy 12/18: free/open
Busiest p.m. roads and time: University Ave between 5:05 p.m. – 5:40 p.m.; Regent St/Mineral Point Rd: 4:50 p.m. – 5:10 p.m.; Beltline Hwy 12/18: 5 p.m. – 5:40 p.m.
Downtown to East:
Busiest a.m. roads and time: East Washington Ave. 8 a.m. – 8:15 a.m: Beltline Hwy 12/18: free/open; East Johnson St.: free/open
Busiest p.m. roads and time: East Washington Ave. 5 p.m. – 5:20 p.m.; Beltline Hwy 12/18: 5 p.m. – 5:40 p.m.; East Johnson St.: 5 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Downtown to South
Busiest a.m. roads and time: Beltline 12/18: 8:10 a.m.-8:20 a.m. ; Monona Drive 7:50 a.m. – 8:05 a.m.
Busiest p.m. roads and time: Beltline 12/18: 5:10 p.m. – 5:20 p.m. ; Monona Drive 5:10 p.m. – 5:25 p.m.
East to West
Busiest a.m. roads and time: Beltline 12/18: 8:10 a.m.-8:20 a.m.; East Washington Ave. 8 a.m. – 8:15 towards downtown; East Johnson St. to downtown: free/open
Busiest p.m. roads and time: Beltline 12/18; 5:10 p.m. – 5:25 p.m.; Beltline Hwy 12/18 Fish Hatchery exit 5:20 – 5:45 p.m.
West to East
Busiest a.m. roads and time: Beltline 12/18: 8:10 a.m.-8:20 a.m.
Busiest p.m. roads and time: Mineral Point Rd/Regent St. 5:15 p.m. – 5:25 p.m. Beltline Hwy 12/18 John Nolen Dr. exit: 5:20 p.m. – 5:35 p.m
Any routes heading North and South usually go through the downtown area first to head up through the beltline or a back road. You can still plan effectively by choosing alternative routes during peak times.