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Madison badly needs a beltline -- State Journal editorial from 75 years ago

March 3, 2019 GMT

This State Journal editorial ran on March 3, 1944:

The Madison Business Association is taking a shortsighted and indefensible view of the outer beltline problem.

The association declares itself first as favoring the “construction of some type of beltline highway which will adequately take care of the heavy through truck traffic outside the city of Madison.”

It then all but cancels out that declaration by its insistence “that present state and federal highways 12, 14, 18, 151, 113 and 51 now entering the city continue to do so.” It only grudgingly gives assent to any change whatever by agreeing that “if it is necessary in the construction of a beltline to divert Highway 13, we are not opposed.”

The association’s “compromise solution” to the proposal voted by the Madison City Council is, of course, neither compromise nor a solution. It could do practically nothing to relieve current intolerable conditions.

The association is certainly reasonable in its desire to keep all the business possible for Madison and unquestionably sincere in its belief that a beltline routing through traffic around Madison’s congested and complicated street system would lose the city some tourist and truck trade that might stop here.

But the entire belt line theory has been threshed out in years of argument and proved in many cases in practice elsewhere. ... Other cities, with far fewer problems and a far less troublesome street layout, have stepped ahead of Madison long ago in meeting their through traffic difficulties. They have not been turned into “ghost cities.” On the other hand, some cities which, like Madison, have refused to recede from their old-fashioned conceptions likewise have earned and retained the dislike of thousands of motorists who resent being forced to expend the time and struggle necessary to get through both Downtown and residential areas.