People looking to park on downtown streets will see some changes soon after the La Crosse Board of Public Works on Monday approved plans to standardize parking.

Street parking within the downtown commercial business district — which runs roughly from Seventh Street to the Mississippi River and from Cass to La Crosse streets — will be two-hour parking every day of the week as soon as the city’s street department gets the signs up. The change was in response to a request from Downtown Mainstreet Inc. made in May.

The city currently has several zones with different time limits and time-limit exceptions on holidays and weekends.

“We’re just looking to standardize the signage and make it easier for the motoring public to not encounter so many 30- or 90- or 60-minute zones,” city traffic engineer Matt Gallagher said.

La Crosse Police Department assistant chief Rob Abraham said the standardization will make it easier for both drivers and his staff.

“It’s so confusing for my staff to enforce, and it’s so confusing for the motoring public when they come down and need to figure out, ‘OK, what kind of zone am I in on this block?’” Abraham said.

The change also adds a 15-minute time limit for loading zones downtown, which Abraham said would prevent people from abusing the spaces.

“People use that zone as their own free parking all day long,” Abraham said.

While council member Phillip Ostrem was initially concerned 15 minutes would not provide enough time to load or unload vehicles, he was mollified after Abraham explained no one would bother someone actively loading or unloading.

“That sounds fair to me,” Ostrem said.

According to Gallagher, the city is able to make and re-face the signs in-house and doesn’t anticipate any extra expense associated with the change.

Updated on Tuesday, Sept. 26.

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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.

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