Could diagonal parking solve parking issues in La Crosse?

Proposed parking changes stir up age-old debate

Proposed parking changes in the city of La Crosse have sparked a huge debate between residents, City Council members and college students, but is there any parking solution that can make everyone happy?

One of the options that have been considered in the past is diagonal street parking. In order to accommodate that style of parking, the city would have to make some streets around the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse one-way. It may seem more efficient, but a 2007 study by the Public Works Department says different.

Everywhere you look, whether it’s Vine Street or Pine Street, vehicles are packed in as far as the eye can see.

“Parking issues have been there off and on over the past, pick a time, 10, 15, 20 years or more,” said Dale Hexom, the director of Public Works for La Crosse.

In 2007, the Board of Public Works did an analysis to see if diagonal parking would ease the parking problem.

“The misconception is that it adds parking spaces,” said Hexom.

For the study, the city turned Vine Street into a one-way heading west and Pine Street into a one-way heading east. The city found that it actually lost about 121 parking spots with diagonal parking. If you switch directions on those two streets, it’s still a loss of 111 spots…

“So then you restrict parking to only one side and you’ve actually lost parking spaces in that particular block,” said Hexom.

It also adds problems when it comes to alternate side parking.

“You can’t really force them to alternate side park because you wouldn’t have the other side marked or stripped for diagonal parking,” said Hexom. “And snow removal certainly would be more problematic than it is now.”

Diagonal parking is only one possibility but the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is also trying do its part. Right now the university has 17 parking lots and one ramp.

“We are at about 2,900 spaces and with construction and everything. We will probably end up with about 2,500,” said Vince Hill, the parking and transportation services manager at UW-La Crosse.

But with more than 10,000 students, it’s still not enough so the university is looking to expand.

“Eventually the ramp is going to add two more levels onto it so it will add another 400 spaces to the parking on campus,” said Hill.

University officials hope to start construction on the ramp next year. The ramp will remain open for parking while it is under construction.

The public meeting on the proposed parking changes originally scheduled for May 20 has been postponed. The next hearing will be on Thursday, May 29 at the Southside Neighborhood Center starting at 6:30 p.m.