Monroe Street constructio

Construction on Monroe Street starts Monday, Jan. 29.

One of Madison’s major thoroughfares on the Near West Side will soon be causing major headaches for commuters and area residents.

Monroe Street, the most “East Side” street on the West Side, will go under the shovel starting Monday, and won’t be back to normal until mid-November.

The first phase of the project will encompass only a short stretch, from Chapman Street to Woodrow Street, with Madison Gas & Electric installing underground gas lines. This should take until mid-March.

The bulk of the project is the reconstruction and repaving of Monroe Street from Odana Road/Nakoma Road to Regent Street, essentially the entire length of the street except for a short stretch next to Camp Randall Stadium.

The project had been budgeted at $17.7 million, but when bids were opened Dec. 21, each bid was over the budgeted amount.

The City Council voted on Jan. 16 to add $3.8 million to the project, with the money taken from existing infrastructure budgets.

Monroe Street will be torn up for almost 10 months, so commuters and residents will have to get used to new road rules.

During the first phase, the installation of underground lines in the eight-block stretch from Chapman to Woodrow streets will allow for only one lane of eastbound and one lane of westbound traffic, and the peak hour traffic lanes will be closed.

Metro Transit buses will continue to use Monroe Street, but some stops might need to be moved or closed at various times.

Sidewalks will be maintained on one side of the street at all times.

When the utility work is completed in mid-March, the major portion of the project begins.

The biggest headache will be the closing of westbound (outbound) lanes, so only eastbound (inbound) traffic will be allowed.

Crazylegs Lane, a one-block cutoff from Regent Street to Monroe Street, will be permanently closed for new public space, and South Breese Terrace, also one block long from Regent to Monroe, will be closed during construction.

The Southwest Commuter Path will be redirected at various times, but will be open at all times.

Eastbound buses will have stops at Glenway Street, Commonwealth Avenue, Arbor Drive, Leonard Street and Grant Street.

The full reconstruction of Monroe Street — including new pavement, sidewalks, curb and utilities — will stretch from Regent Street to Leonard Street, while the rest of the street westbound will be resurfaced and have updated utilities.


Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.