La Crosse Street

Mayor Kabat is proposing a plan to have the city redo La Crosse Street, rather than wait for state. As a connecting highway road, the state is responsible for rebuilding it while the city is in charge of its maintenance.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune

If the Wisconsin Department of Transportation won’t address problems with La Crosse Street, the city of La Crosse will do it itself, Mayor Tim Kabat said Wednesday.

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Mayor Tim Kabat

Kabat

“The goal is to repair and rebuild La Crosse Street and then send DOT a bill,” the mayor said.

Kabat has told city staff in the engineering, utilities and street departments to gather estimates and data to determine the total scope and cost of rebuilding or repaving La Crosse Street.

“Ideally, we’d be able to do the whole street, the whole length from Losey Boulevard to downtown, but we may have to do it in phases,” Kabat said.

The project will be included in the 2019 capital improvement budget process, which will start going before the city’s Plan Commission this summer.

“It’s beyond its functional life, and we need to get it fixed. We can’t wait for the state to live up to its responsibility,” Kabat said.

Because the road is classified as a connecting highway, meaning it’s a local street that carries a state highway through a municipality, the state is responsible for rebuilding it while the city is in charge of maintenance with the help of state connecting highway aid.

According to WisDOT planning chief Steve Flottmeyer, the state has plans for a 2025 Hwy. 16 project, just outside its usual six-year program.

“They’re relatively firm. Things could change, but what we need to do is review the needs and come up with some type of improvement for that section,” Flottmeyer said.

However, the mayor said La Crosse Street needs repairs now.

“I can’t imagine waiting another seven years before that gets addressed. The road isn’t going to be able to last that long,” Kabat said.

Council member Barb Janssen, who represents the area, has lived half a block off of La Crosse Street since 1996.

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Barb Janssen mug

Janssen

“I’ve heard talk of the state redoing that road for the entire time I’ve lived in La Crosse,” Janssen said.

The potholes and bumps are stuff of local legend, despite city efforts to smooth out the road through maintenance.

“The street department has worked so hard to try and keep the potholes filled in the entire city, but when the base is that bad, you can fill it in the morning and it’s out again in the afternoon,” Janssen said.

While the city works on temporary fixes, she said, it’d be wiser to put that money toward a solution.

“I do support a long-term fix, even if it did involve city funds. I’d rather the state do their job and pay for it, but I think that’s going to take citizens getting on the phone, writing letters and contacting their state representatives,” Janssen said.

The street has long been a priority for the Grandview Emerson Neighborhood Association, which set aside a portion of its neighborhood improvement funds — provided by the city in 2016 — to improving pedestrian crossings, while Janssen was co-chair of the group.

“It keeps getting delayed, so it’d be nice to get something done,” Janssen said.

The city’s scope will be limited to the current road’s footprint, with two lanes, rather than four, according to the mayor.

“We’re not interested in widening it. It functions just fine the way it is as far as traffic capacity. It just needs to be fixed,” Kabat said.

The mayor plans to preserve the bicycle routes, which are painted on the side of the street but nearly unusable because of the condition of the road.

“I’m hoping when this thing does get repaired, bike lanes would still be part of that,” he said.

It’s unclear what would happen if the state refused to reimburse the city for the work.

“That would be very unfortunate if the state took that position,” Kabat said; however, he added, “If push comes to shove, we’ve got to get the road fixed, and we’re going to go ahead and move forward with that.”

The city has also set aside funds to do three spot repairs this year at the intersections of La Crosse and Fourth Street, West Avenue and Losey Boulevard.


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La Crosse city government reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

(19) comments

ou812

AWALL. OR SHOULD I SAY DUMB AS.....HO...LE WHY SHOULD DON WEBER PAY FOR ANY OF THIS????????? HE HAS HELPED THE LACROSSE ECONOMEY GREATLEY . WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE?????

Rickwillenberg

Don Weber has nothing to do with this Lacrosse Street road damage by UWL. Agree with your comments. Don Weber and his family has taken plenty of risk and funded many projects for so much improvement in the Lacrosse area. He has created many jobs and built many new buildings as well as restored buildings worth saving. Sure he has money but is willing to use it and assume the risk. He is one that is willing to step up.

union conservative

We should should go back to gravel. Way less maintenance Andy people have to drive slower.

Redwall

And what does the mayor think "the DOT" will do when they receive his silly bill?

Redwall

If the road condition is a result of UWL construction then UWL students should pay for road repairs. Ask that the students vote for a special student fee for road repairs but with the stipulation it only applies to new students arriving in future years, that seems to be a sure fire fund raising method by UWL that has always worked in the past.

Problem solved.

Rickwillenberg

No, the UWL students should not have to pay. The University and the State created the project(s) contract and should have placed the road and other damage condition in the contract bid document. Why didn't the contract attorneys involved do this?
The UWL students have nothing to do with this road damage matter.

ou812

Rick, are you brain dead?? The contractors bid the project and bids are EXTREMELY competitive. They are not told about future road maintenance.

awol2009

Maybe King Don Weber could pitch in a donation. King Don has been a big benefactor of City of La Crosse and La Crosse County tax dollars four several years now. All those shiny new buildings and pothole filled roads leading to them? What a scammy shame.

Rickwillenberg

Don is a dedicated military veteran/ Semper Fi.... He and his family have been fortunate to do well and they have been willing to take risk and invest in the Lacrosse area future. Nothing ventured and nothing gained. He is not the only Lacrosse business person to utilize tax funds available to better Lacrosse.
Please dispense with the negative King label. So sad that individuals in our community begrudge individuals that have done well. What part have you played in making Lacrosse a better place to live?

correctcraft196

Funny how the mayor calls out the DOT even thought every year the state pays the city to maintain connecting highways. Facts are facts.

Redwall

This article is best described as "journalistic flatulence".

Rickwillenberg

Yes.... City entered into an agreement some years back and receives close to $500,000 each year. I have read the connecting highway agreement and the dollars are to be used for roads in the catagory/agreement. Each area is clearly spelled out and on a map.
I do though think the State DOT has some added responsibility. I worked for a company that had to post a bond to cover any damage to traveled roads during construction. This happened especially when road bans were involved and frost was leaving with spring thaw.

Whatup Dog

Were going to fix La Crosse Street and make Mexico pay for it. [ thumbup]

Rick Czeczok

Try to stay on topic please. We all know your political affiliation.

Rickwillenberg

Yes to Rick C comments with contractors building at UWL. Repairs to all streets/roads should have been part of all contracts. Plenty of damage by trucks, equipment, etc.
Also, think about Losey Blvd being used as a thru highway with large truck loads from north to south. Numerous slab failures and curb areas collapsing. Who will pick up this city street repair tab? This street is not designed for the axle load being place on it.

Proud LAX Dem

I think we should keep using tax money for homeless projects instead of fixing our streets. Affordable housing for a few poor people is more important than safe roads. People can pick a different street, they can’t always work for a living.

Rick Czeczok

Unfortunately we have been doing that for 10 years, and most all the roads are now in need of repair. This can has just been as usual, kicked down the road for to long. Now there is no money, as it all went into TIF's. Poor city management, is all that there is to it.

Peter and Jean

There needs to be some indictments either at the state DOT or the city streets dept. The dangerous negligent conditions that are allowed to exist on La Crosse St and did exist on Lang Dr until last year are criminal and need to be investigated.

Rick Czeczok

The contractors who made all the money on all the building should help pay for it. It was all the heavy equipment on that road that tore it up. Since they won't, the state should, after all it was all done to expand there university system. I can't believe that the road wasn't part of the contracts for building. That's all on the state, and who knows it may have been. The state will want any roadwork to be appealing to the university thus raising the cost. Mayor just tell them you are just going to overlay it, they will be forced to commit.

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