Madison Mayor Soglin announces plan for multimillion dollar makeover of State Street

Mayor Paul Soglin announced today that the city’s tired and dysfunctional downtown “mall”—State Street—will be overhauled to meet the needs of a 21st century city.

For years, residents have complained that State Street isn’t truly a “mall,” in the Santa Monica Promenade sense, but a chaotic thoroughfare allowing everything from taxis, buses and police cars to delivery vehicles and bicycles to stroll up and down the street all day long, presenting a nuisance to pedestrians and outdoor diners. In fact, the only vehicles not allowed on State Street are nonofficial or nondelivery cars and motorbikes. This has not made for an ambient shopping or tourist destination throughout the duration of the famed street’s current incarnation. Ask anyone who’s dined with a Madison Metro bus idling in front of them, at a stop light, for what seems like an eternity.

But Soglin has announced that all of that will change. With several hundred million dollars in state and federal urban renovation grants, State Street will undergo its largest transformation to date.

In the works:

The following cross streets will soon pass beneath State Street:

  • Dayton/Fairchild
  • East Johnson/Henry
  • Gorham St.
  • Gilman St.
  • Lake St.

Getting Around
Handicap-accessible bus stops will be installed at each cross street, but buses, taxis, delivery vehicles and all non-emergency vehicles will be banned from State Street. A ground level monorail will silently and without exhaust shuttle people from the Square to the Memorial Union mall and back, right down the middle of State Street.

Two underground service corridors will be installed for all deliveries. These will be accessible from each of the cross streets. Electronic dollies will be available to facilitate deliveries.

A five-story underground parking ramp will be installed beneath the Memorial Union mall and both the Dayton Street ramp and W. Mifflin Street ramp will be expanded to accommodate visitors.

Roughly 50 percent of State Street will be covered by a translucent awning, that will also support solar arrays, which will provide power to the mall. This will make outdoor shopping and dining possible even on rainy days.

Said the mayor “For too long, State Street has been allowed to decay into mediocrity. This revitalization will elevate State Street to a world class destination and restore Madison’s reputation as a city of innovation.”

The entire project will take about three years and will occur in two-block increments, starting at the Memorial Union mall. State Street business groups are said to be on board and welcome such transformation.

“Disruption of business should not be to a degree greater than what was endured during the construction of the Hub—a colossal mixed use, student housing project at State St. and Frances St.” the mayor assured.

Artist renderings will be made available in a future press release, or at the Madison Municipal Building (unless it becomes Judge Doyle Plaza).