Transportation officials hope new strategies will cut down on tr - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Transportation officials hope new strategies will cut down on traffic jams this construction season

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MADISON (WKOW)--   Every year it's the same, Summer hits and road construction kicks into high gear. Transportation officials say it's one of the busiest they've ever seen. WisDOT is working on several projects at the same time this season. Besides the massive project at Verona Road and the ongoing construction in downtown Madison, there are now three main projects on the beltline.

"Almost all of our work is taking place at night. In our bridge work zones we're using some innovative traffic control where traffic is being, what we call split. They're splitting around the work zone," WisDOT Project Manager David Layton says.

These "lane splits" and "lane shifts" were first used on the belt line last year. Construction officials say they help to prevent lane closures and keep traffic flowing freely on the belt line. The only problem is that most Wisconsinites aren't familiar with them and sometimes get into accidents.

"It's something new to people. They get up to it and sometimes they think that one of the lanes is going to peal off and force them into an exit. It's not. Whenever we have these, we have three lanes going through," Layton says.

Construction officials urge drivers to slow down during these lane shifts and splits and to always pay attention to nearby signs. So far, officials have seen about one to two accidents each week at these lane shifts. They're hoping that by the end of the season drivers will feel comfortable driving in them.

"They're a great tool. It's just going to take some time for people to get use to it," Layton says.

The three main construction zones on the beltline are from Interstate 39/90 to Fish Hatchery Road. In that portion workers will patch up the pavement, fix bridges and work on several safety improvements.

The second construction project is near Verona Road. Officials say they are prepping the road for major construction that will take place over the next few years. The third and final project on the belt line focuses on the area between Mineral Point Road and University Avenue. In this portion workers will break up the concrete and put in new pavement. They're also adding noise walls and creating safer off-ramps and on-ramps for the beltline.

Most of the construction won't wrap up until October. Officials are urging drivers to avoid the beltline this construction season. They're also encouraging drivers to cut down on lane changes, because excessive lane changes can eventually cause traffic jams for drivers later in the day.

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