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City looks at ways to improve downtown driving

LHI adding nearly 1,000 new jobs could create more driving problems downtown

City looks at ways to improve downtown driving

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Logistics Health Incorporated's recent announcement that they are adding nearly 1,000 jobs in the La Crosse area is raising some concerns about parking and traffic congestion in downtown.

Many are wondering how the move will affect commute and parking.

The city says it is always important to approach traffic concerns on multiple fronts.
"With growth like that you're going to have issues that will have to be addressed, but those are good problems to have," LHI founder Don Weber said.

And whether it's through driving, walking or bicycling to work, the city is steering its own path to address traffic in downtown.

"One of the issues brought up was: Where are these people going to park? But most importantly, the question we need to ask is how people are going to get from their home to work," La Crosse associate planner Lewis Kuhlman said.

And the answer to those questions may not lie in one solution.

"More parking is one answer, but we also need to consider how people can bike or walk or take transit to get to work too," Kuhlman said.

One solution may be re-investing in the city's Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan, which looks at making it easier to bike through parts of the city.

"There's a lot of potential on Second Street for a separate bike lane," Kuhlman said.

The city also relies on relationships with downtown employers to encourage more efficient modes of transportation.

"We've set up a committee to look at employee-assisted housing programs, so what employers can do to encourage their employees to live downtown," economic development planner Andrea Schnick said. "We also like to work with them to come up with programs for other transit options as well. Whether it's carpooling programs, ride-share programs, or encouraging people to bicycle downtown."

But whatever the answer may be, Weber says La Crosse is going down the right path.

"You get into these communities where the storefronts are all closed down and 'for sale' signs on them. There's no jobs there," Weber said. "The communities aren't developing like La Crosse is."

The city also offers loan programs that are designed to help business owners redevelop their second and third floors into living space or commercial space, in the hope of encouraging more people to live downtown and avoid driving altogether.

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