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2 Beltline construction projects nearing completion

Two road construction projects tying up Beltline traffic should be finished soon.

Officials with Wisconsin Department of Transportation said they hope the projects will be wrapped up in November.

One Beltline project stretches from Fish Hatchery Road to the interstate. DOT officials said crews are replacing six miles of concrete and making repairs to five bridges. The old pavement was 25 years old. DOT officials hope the new concrete will last at least 12 years.

This project started in April and the DOT hopes to finish it by early November.

The second project is on the Beltline from Midvale Road to University Avenue. Road crews are installing a noise wall, widening ramps and doing some electrical work. DOT officials said work is mostly complete with an end date at the end of November.

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Task force will research ways to protect Madison's honeybees

A task force will research the problem of Colony Collapse Disorder, which directly affects honeybees and other pollinators, in the Madison area, according to a release.

The Madison Common Council adopted a resolution earlier this month directing the Madison Food Policy Council to lead the task force, which will be composed mainly of city staff, officials said. The task force will provide recommendations to departments and the common council on local solutions to protect pollinators.

Madison?s Pollinator Protection Task Force will monitor the progress of the federal task force, use best practices to inform its work and review relevant recommendations from the federal government, according to the release.

Small, white, shaggy dog bites man on west side

A dog bit a man on Madison?s west side Tuesday afternoon, according to a release from the Department of Public Health.

The dog bit the man around 5 p.m. in the 1100 block of Merrill Springs Road, officials said. The man was jogging when the incident happened.

The dog is described as small, white and shaggy, according to the release.

Officials ask anyone with information on the incident to call 255-2345 and ask for the animal services officer.

Woman injured in crash that shut down Beltline Tuesday

A woman was injured in a crash that shut down the westbound Beltline briefly Tuesday morning.

The Dane County Sheriff's Office said a vehicle crashed at about 7:52 a.m. between Verona Road and Whitney Way.

Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said a 22-year-old woman was driving west on the Beltline as traffic began to slow because of construction. The woman changed lanes to avoid rear-ending a vehicle but rear-ended another car driven by an 80-year-old woman, police said.

The 22-year-old woman?s vehicle also struck a concrete median barrier and the vehicle came to rest on its side, DeSpain said. There were construction workers on the other side of the median but they were not injured, police said.

The 22-year-old received minor injuries, DeSpain said. The 80-year-old driver was not injured.

The right lane opened at about 8:54 a.m. for traffic that was stuck after the Verona Road exit and all three lanes reopened at about 9:11 a.m.

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Madison water customers could see rate increase, conservation incentives

Madison Water Utility is asking the Public Service Commission for a rate increase and changes to its rate structure to incentivize users to conserve water.

The utility wants to increase revenue by 30 percent by increasing rates, on an annualized basis, 7.5 percent per year for each of the four years since the last rate increase. The utility has not decided how the increase will be distributed among residential, multi-family, commercial, industrial and public authority customers.

General manager Tom Heikkinen said the increase is needed to replace aging water mains, improve water quality and make a payment in lieu of taxes to the city.

This is the first rate increase requested in four years, according to the utility.

If approved, Madison Water Utility will be the largest water utility in Wisconsin to offer a conservation rate for residential customers.

If approved, the new rates would go into effect in the spring of 2015 at the earliest.

Madison debuts online water tracking tool

A new online tool is helping Madison residents keep better track of their water usage.

Madison is the first city in the state to launch an online tool that allows residents to check their monthly, daily and even hourly water use. The tool lets you compare month-to-month usage and set up email notifications to warn you of higher-than-normal usage, among other services.

"What we're talking about for us is really the ultimate conservation tool when it comes to water conservation," says Amy Barrilleaux, spokesperson for the Madison Water Utility.

Prior to the online option, residents could only track their usage by checking their monthly water bill or constantly comparing the water meter before and after use.

"This is just night and day from having to go into the basement and look at your meter to see how much water you're using every day," Barrilleaux said.

The goal is to help conserve water and dollars for Madison's residents.

2014 Halloween event at zoo features costume contest

2014 Halloween event at zoo features costume contest

A free costume contest is just one event at a Halloween celebration at Henry Vilas Zoo next weekend.

Halloween at the Zoo is a free event to the public with a suggested donation of $2, and features free trick-or-treating and an activity tent, according to a release.

There will be five categories for the costume contest and the top three contestants will win prizes. The contest will be from 11 a.m. to noon in the center of the zoo. To enter the costume contest, participants will need to go to the costume contest stage across from the seals and fill out an entry form.

Organizers said the contest will end promptly at noon, but they will accept as many entries as they can. Participants will be judged on creativity, originality and authenticity.

The winners will be announced at 12:30 p.m. at the costume contest stage.

Costume contest prizes: