South Avenue expansion to reduce car accident rates

Twhundred car crashes on South Avenue in the past five years

Two hundred car crashes have happened on La Crosse’s South Avenue in the past five years. In an effort to reduce that number, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is hoping to expand the road between Ward Avenue and Green Bay Street. Right now the project is in the developmental stages and construction would likely begin within the next two years.

Because South Avenue is part of highway 14 the DOT technically has control of the project. However, since the roadway is located in La Crosse city planners also have input.

“I think if we can do a better job with it than maybe what we have done in the past, it can serve both to move traffic and to improve our community,” Amy Peterson, interim director of La Crosse City Planning, said.

The DOT is hoping to expand a 1-mile stretch of South Avenue from Ward Avenue to Green Bay Street.

“The main goal of this project is to get people safely to their destinations,” Jim Rohe, chief project engineer for the Wisconsin DOT. said.

To do that, DOT officials want to increase the amount of lanes to four. plus a raised median or an additional turning lane.

“The people that are turning left aren’t protected. and so they get rear-ended sometimes and other people are trying to get around them,” Rohe said.

But the vity wants the expansion to be a bit smaller with three lanes.

“If everything in the design is telling people that it’s a wide open freeway, that’s how people tend to drive. And police have a hard time enforcing that,” Peterson said.

However, project engineers said three lanes might not cut it.

“We are in the mid-25,000 range for vehicles a day and there would be still lot congestion with a three-lane facility,” Rohe said.

While there are some initial disagreements the city and the DOT believe they’ll reach a decision.

“We’ve got time to work together,” Peterson said.

The lane expansion will likely cut into private property that is currently along South Avenue. The DOT is talking with a community advisory group that represents residents and local businesses along the potential construction site to get their input.