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‘Hairball’ street reconstruction Downtown starts April 1

March 22, 2019 GMT

The “hairball” intersection in Downtown Madison should be a little less hairy to navigate later this year.

City engineering officials announced construction on the Williamson Street-East Wilson Street-South Blount Street project will begin April 1, with some utility work already starting on Monday. Construction is expected to be completed by Aug. 8.

The work includes replacement of curb, pavement, sanitary sewers and storm sewers, better bicycle facility improvements and the replacement of the railroad crossing cutting through the intersection area.

South Blount Street will be the most affected by construction, with only local traffic allowed to use the street for about a month of the over four-month project timetable.

Only one lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction on East Wilson Street and Williamson Street, which will cause traffic delays during peak traffic periods.

The construction zone on East Wilson Street runs from South Franklin Street to South Blair Street, the zone on Williamson Street runs from South Blair Street to South Blount Street, and the zone on South Blount Street runs from the Capital City Bike Path to Williamson Street.

Work is also planned along the bike path which could result in closures and detours intermittently during the street construction period.

The railroad crossing work is scheduled for June 19 to June 23, which will have a huge impact on traffic in the hairball, since the track runs alongside John Nolen Drive and crosses East Wilson Street and South Blair Street.

A new traffic signal is going in at South Blount Street and Williamson Street to help with bicycle safety, and a new cycling track will be developed along Williamson Street and South Blount Street, with a separate sidewalk for pedestrians and marked, buffered bike lanes on East Wilson Street, all within the project’s boundaries.

The second part of the rebuild of the “hairball,” the work on Blair Street and John Nolen Drive, won’t come until 2021 or 2022, since the state Department of Transportation is thinking of additional work to be done on Blair Street.

Those improvements include left turn lanes on Blair Street and John Nolen Drive, relocated driveways at Machinery Row, and relocating the bike path around and through new driveway and parking lot layouts, the Engineering Division said.