Friday, August 14, 2020 - 11:41am

As the temperatures have risen this summer, so have the weekend speeds on East Washington Avenue, creating dangerous situations for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. The loud noises and hazardous driving have also led to a reduced quality of life for residents and patrons of local businesses.

Madison Police have been working to educate and enforce the traffic laws on the road and have issued numerous citations for speeding and hazardous driving. Through their interaction with some of the involved motorists, they have learned that a number of the drivers are young and from area small communities, outside of the City of Madison.

City staff from the Police Department and Traffic Engineering are working in collaboration to adjust the roadway options and provide additional education and enforcement to motorists this weekend, beginning the evening of Friday, August 14 until the morning of Monday, August 17.

“The speeding and hazardous driving in this major corridor is getting much worse, said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “At my request, City staff have developed numerous strategies to discourage this behavior, to slow things down and make the street safer for the community.”

One of the most noticeable changes will be that, beginning Friday evening, Traffic Engineering staff will create narrower roadway segments by reducing lanes of traffic on East Washington Avenue to remind traffic to slow down to moderate speeds this weekend. The information on this change and others are being well-publicized so motorists are prepared to slow.

The changes to the road will focus on three main areas -- enforcement, engineering and education.


  • Test lane closures on East Washington Avenue to physically slow down the racers and discourage the racing activities.
  • Install turning restrictions at strategic locations to disrupt observed racing patterns.
  • Observe the racing behaviors and identify locations for potential traffic signal operation change to further disrupt the racing activities.


  • Utilize message boards to educate drivers and warn racers on enforcement initiatives.


  • Continue and potentially strengthen the enforcement operation on East Washington Avenue by utilizing Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Bureau of Transportation Safety funding.
  • The police districts are also working to hold additional special initiatives to address the dangerous driving behaviors on the roadway.
  • MPD will also be reaching out to other law enforcement partners for their assistance with traffic enforcement efforts.

“Alders have been hearing from a number of constituents who are concerned about the noise problems, but most importantly they are concerned for their safety and that of their families and visitors,” said 2nd District Alder Patrick Heck. “I will continue to work with City staff to address this issue. We don’t want this type of reckless behavior on our City streets.”​

“East Washington Avenue is a gateway to our City,” said 6th District Alder Marsha Rummel. “It is a major thoroughfare, not a race track. I have shared complaints from residents about the dangerous, reckless behavior of drag racers and the noise from their activities with City staff. I appreciate that we are using engineering and enforcement to improve safety and disrupt these irresponsible drivers.”

The efforts to change behavior and driving conditions will be evaluated after this weekend and adjusted as needed.