La Crosse officials highlight road improvements in 2016

La Crosse officials discussed the 2016 road construction season on Tuesday night at an informational meeting about Green Complete Streets.

About three years ago, the city of La Crosse passed an ordinance requiring that all streets be looked at and designed with all users in mind — cyclists, pedestrians, cars and buses.

On Tuesday night, community members had the opportunity to voice their opinions on whether all those needs are being met.

Jack Zabrowski is the executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Alliance. He said Green Complete Streets are vital in improving the quality of life in La Crosse and attracting people to the community; that’s why he decided to attend Tuesday night’s meeting.

“We’re trying to develop a bike-able, walk-able, outdoor environment that you can engage in. It’ll bring people to our community,” Zabrowski said.

To be a Green Complete Street, that street needs to meet certain requirements in five categories: bike, pedestrian, traffic, transit and storm.

“We try to look at, can pedestrians use it, can bicycles use it, is there a bus route and are we accommodating the bus route, can we treat the stormwater in a way that benefits the environment?” Assistant City Engineer Bernard Lenz said.

Of the roughly 35 major street reconstruction projects taking place in 2016 in La Crosse, a majority will have work done to make them complete streets, if they are not one already.

Deciding whether a city street can become a Green Complete Street takes place when that street is already in preparation to be ripped up.

“It’s very expensive to go in and retrofit an existing street and make it green or make it complete, but if a street is being torn out completely anyways, now it’s just a matter of designing it differently, thinking about it differently. Sometimes those costs are the same or less,” Lenz said.

Zabrowski was one of only two people at Tuesday night’s meeting, but he believes everyone in La Crosse should be participating.

“It’s important to get everyone’s input because this stuff is the stuff that makes people want to come, move, locate, live, work and be part of our community. These little steps all add up to being a better product for all of us to live in,” Zabrowski said.

According to the city’s Green Complete Streets ordinance, the city’s engineering department is required to go to the Board of Public Works and explain why each street will or will not become a Green Complete Street.

If residents would like to voice their opinion or learn more about Green Complete Streets, there is another information meeting coming up Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 6:30 p.m.

The input received from residents and the other city departments will be given to the Board of Public Works in late January.

Click here to see a list of the city’s projects for 2016