Stretch of Beltline closed until 5 a.m. Thursday - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Beltline back open after crews install pedestrian overpass

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A stretch of the Beltline that closed for a construction project is back open and traffic is moving smoothly.

The Beltline was shut down in both directions for about seven hours, but opened again just before 5:00 a.m. Thursday.

Crews got two trusses in place with no problems.

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MADISON (WKOW)-- It's rare in Madison that a stretch of the Beltline is completely empty, but that's what happened Wednesday night. City engineers closed it down from 10:00 p.m. Wednesday night until 5:00 a.m. Thursday.

The roadway was shut down in both directions in the 2.5 mile span from Fish Hatchery Road to Verona Road. Crews raised two 150,000 pound trusses that will make up a brand new overpass over the Beltline. The overpass will give bikers and pedestrians a safe route between Madison and Fitchburg.

Madison city engineers say the overpass project should only inconvenience drivers on the Beltline for one night. They plan to have both trusses installed by 5:00 a.m. Thursday. If things get off schedule crews will have to wait until Thursday night to finish the job.

"They are only allowed by contract to have the Beltline closed until 5:00 a.m. promptly, if not before that. The Beltline will be open to traffic after that," project engineer Tony Fernandez says.

Engineers say the only option for bikers to cross the Beltline is the interchange on Fish Hatchery Road. It's why they decided to build the new overpass for a growing population of bikers who commute to work.

"It really serves a very under served area South of the Beltline. It's pretty tough to get there by bike from say the Arbor Hills neighborhood or a lot of the Fitchburg neighborhoods into Madison," Fernandez says.

Bicyclists are excited to see a newer and safer option to cross the busy highway.

"It's fantastic. I mean, the more trails you can put in the better," bike commuter John Cronn says.

Cronn commutes between McFarland and Madison nearly everyday on his bike. He volunteers with Wheels for Winners, a non-profit group that refurbishes bikes for kids.

"Here we're giving out bikes to kids and the fewer kids that are on the roads with traffic and semis and trucks, the better it is," Cronn says.

Besides the overpass itself, workers are also building a one mile bike trail. They hope to have it finished by the end of September. Next year they'll extend the trail into 4.5 miles and connect it to the network of trails that run throughout Madison.

"Our primary interest in this is transportation, commuting basically," Fernandez says.

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