Exit 3 project to make big changes on La Crosse’s north side

Changes include new intersections, stop lights

Some major changes are coming in the new year to the Exit 3 corridor on La Crosse’s north side.

For several years now, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the city have been working on putting the final plans for the Exit 3 corridor project in order.

And by the time the project will be complete this coming November, drivers will notice many changes when passing through.

For city leaders, the exit 3 corridor is a chance to show what La Crosse has to offer.

“We want people to pull off the interstate. We want people to come into the city,” La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said.

But for those at the Wisconsin DOT, the safety of that stretch of road has become a problem.

“Anybody who has driven through there going southbound on Rose Street, and you’re trying to make the left of West George Street to get to those businesses — they’re a lot of movements that are dangerous,” Joe Gregas of the Wisconsin DOT said.

This spring, the final phase of the project will be completed to address safety, as well as enhance the corridor.

The exit 3 interchange itself will become a diamond interchange, with stop lights at the new intersections.

“You will see traffic signals where the interstate offramps tie into Rose Street,” Gregas said. “This will be more appropriate for this area which has become more urbanized.”

Because the new Rose Street will remove some access points to Bridgeview Plaza, a new West George and George Street intersection will be constructed to provide access to businesses.

The new plans will also remove left hand turns from West George Steet into Kwik Trip and Walgreens.

That’s why a new frontage road will be built behind those businesses to provide access.

“The feel for this corridor will be much more like what you see on Highway 16 where business do not have direct highway access onto Highway 16,” Gregas said.

The decision to remove those access points is a concern to city leaders.

“It’s a business area, so in my mind, we should be trying to slow the traffic down and having access points for those businesses to try and attract customers,” Kabat said.

DOT officials say that as always in a project of this size, finding a balance can be a challenge.

“What’s going to move traffic efficiently, while at the same time, making sure their businesses thrive,” Gregas said.

The project is expected to start this spring, with an expected completion date by Nov 17.

There will also be a new eagle-watching area where the current east-bound interstate exit ramp intersects with Rose Street.

In addition, more greenery will be added to Rose Street, and new pedestrian access areas along Rose Street will be built as well.