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Madison’s Strong Logistics System Move People and Products

Dane County Regional Airport plays a key role in providing transportation advantages in the Madison Region.

By John Fuller on May 5, 2014

The Madison Region’s integrated transportation system has its roots in an agricultural past but its feet firmly planted in the future, with infrastructure that provides ready access to major markets and the efficient movement of people and products. 

Owing to its agricultural and dairy heritage, the region offers an excellent local highway system including access to four major interstates, and is served by five freight rail carriers.

One of the 100 busiest commercial airports in the United States is Dane County Regional Airport, which serves more than 1.5 million passengers throughout south central Wisconsin.The airport, which delivers a $500 million annual economic impact, is a key component of a transportation system has helped make the region an advantageous location for logistics, distribution and warehousing companies.

Four airlines – American, Delta, Frontier and United – serve the airport, which sees about 90 departures and arrivals daily, including 13 nonstop flights to various destinations. In 2013, the airport added nonstop services to and from New York’s La Guardia Airport as well as Salt Lake City International Airport, which gives passengers better access to western U.S. markets and beyond.

“Our No. 1 busiest destination is Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., with about 140 passengers flying there each day,” says Bradley Livingston, director of Dane County Regional Airport. “Many passengers are affiliated with the University of Wisconsin because UW is so involved in research efforts and many federal government projects.”

Livingston says health-care IT giant Epic, which is the largest private employer in the Madison Region, has many employees who use the airport on an extensive basis, but so do area companies affiliated with biotech, computer tech, insurance, medical research, as well as the military and general public.

Dane County Regional has launched a number of recent capital projects, including a $30 million expansion to its parking garage that will provide an additional 1,200 covered spaces.

The airport also is embarking on a number of airfield renovations, including a $10 million project to add newer technology instrumentation for landing aircraft that it is installing for the Federal Aviation Administration to run, Livingston says. Also in the works is a $5 million taxiway reconstruction project to handle larger aircraft such as those used by FedEx. The upgrades began in the summer of 2014.

“Not only do we draw passengers from Madison but also from Beloit, La Crosse, Mosinee, Stevens Point, Wausau and even Dubuque, Iowa,” he says. “The airport is lucky to be situated less than 2 miles from major interstates I-39/90 and I-94, plus we are within proximity to several U.S. routes such as US-12, 14, 18, 51 and 151.”

I-39/90 and I-43 Corridor

One of the many Madison Region communities that benefit from an advantageous geographic location is Rock County, located just southeast of Madison. Rock County is served by three rail cargo providers – Union Pacific Railroad, Wisconsin Southern and Railroad, and Canadian Pacific Railway – and the ports of Chicago and Milwaukee can be reached within 90 minutes.

“For any local firms that rely upon shipping or receiving by semi-trucks, the I-39/90 and I-43 corridor in our community provides a cost-efficient means of transporting products to reach more than 125 cities with populations of 50,000 or greater in seven states and one Canadian province,” says James R. Otterstein, economic development manager with the Rock County Development Alliance in Janesville. “Plus, there is a pending expansion of I-39/90 in the near future that will make transportation in this region even better.”

Otterstein notes that Dane County Regional Airport is only 40 minutes northwest of Rock County via I-39/90, and a locally owned Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport operates in Janesville in Rock County and has approximately 100 aircrafts.

The county’s distribution advantages have drawn a number of companies including Ariens Co., Blain Supply, Cummins, Diamond Foods, Landair Distribution, Miniature Precision Components, Save-A-Lot and Staples.

“Quite a few companies have specifically chosen Rock County to do business because of our logistical advantages, and several have even expanded their operations,” he says. “We have room for many more.”

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