New local transportation study to be unveiled to public

Coulee Region Transportation Study looks to decrease congestion on area roads

If you travel for work in La Crosse, you probably drive through heavy traffic during the morning and afternoon commute.

But after nearly a year of public input, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is unveiling new plans to address traffic congestion in the area.

After hearing from residents and officials from around the area for about a year, the Wisconsin DOT has narrowed its options for the area down to six.

It’s a problem only growing.

“We have about 70,000 vehicles every day coming in and out of the city,” said La Crosse mayor Tim Kabat.

To address the problem, the Wisconsin DOT is ready to unveil options from the Coulee Region Transportation Study.

“We need to have a plan in place in order to address those infrastructure needs,” said Andrew Winga, project manager of the study.

One of the six packages being proposed includes expanding La Crosse Street and Highway 16.

“Widening Highway 16 pretty much from the interstate down to the La Crosse St. intersection to six lanes, and then widening La Crosse St. from Losey (Blvd.) all the way to the downtown,” said Winga.

But it’s a plan the city thinks will do more harm than good.

“I feel very strongly that expanding Highway 16 by that many lanes as well as to expand La Crosse St. to four lanes is going to have some very negative impacts on our neighborhoods,” said Kabat.

Another package includes creating a completely new corridor by expanding Hwy 53 south by the mall behind Grizzly’s restaurant and connecting at River Valley Drive.

“Turning Hwy 53 and bringing it down, instead of having Hwy 53 and 157 connect into 16, which creates a significant bottleneck for us,” said Winga.

But with all expansions comes concerns over the marsh.

“We have to try and figure a way to get a corridor through there and do the least amount of damage to anything,” said Winga.

A third package would introduce a new west corridor on French Island. The package would also include the Hwy 53 expansion.

“Basically connect(ing) the interstate using Bainbridge St. directly down to the downtown,” said Winga.

Despite the DOT using city feedback to develop these packages, the city said more work needs to be done before anything is finalized.

“I don’t think we’re there yet,” said Kabat. “We’re still far apart when it comes to the different strategy packages.”

“We have a really dedicated team trying hard to solve this problem and keep La Crosse the great place it is,” said Winga.

All of the proposals include plans to reduce congestion using things such as park-n-rides, expanded bus routes, and promoting ride-shares.

The Wisconsin DOT is presenting the six packages Wednesday at Central High School from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., and on Thursday at Onalaska City Hall at the same time.