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La Crosse Street

Mayor Tim Kabat has proposed the city repair La Crosse Street and seek funding from the state.

Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says state law wouldn’t allow it to pay a bill for La Crosse Street repairs if sent one under Mayor Tim Kabat’s proposal to fix the portion of Hwy. 16.

Tim Kabat


Under state law, the portion of the road is considered a “connecting highway,” which means it’s a local road that carries state highway traffic through the city. The state transportation department provides aid to La Crosse to maintain the road; however, it is responsible for replacing the road when it reaches the end of its useful life.

“Municipalities have the authority to perform improvement work on connecting highways without WisDOT approval,” WisDOT communications manager Michael Bie wrote in an email. “There is no statutory authority to bill the state for work on a connecting highway, or for the state to reimburse a municipality for improvements authorized by the municipality.”

WisDOT has plans to repair the road, which runs down the center of La Crosse, past Myrick Park, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus and Western Technical College, in 2025.

Kabat said earlier this week that the city can’t wait for the state to fix the road, saying the road won’t last another seven years. He’s proposed including a repaving or replacement project in the 2019 capital improvement budget, which goes before the city’s Plan Commission starting this summer.

Under his proposal, the city would pay for the extensive repairs needed and ask for reimbursement from the state.

State Sen. Jennifer Shilling, who represents the La Crosse area, tied the street’s disrepair with infrastructure struggles throughout the state.

“I understand Mayor Kabat’s frustration with Gov. Walker’s inability to lead on transportation funding. Wisconsin families and communities want a responsible, long-term transportation funding solution to repair our crumbling infrastructure and improve road safety,” she said.

The Democratic Senate leader criticized Walker’s state budget, which initially provided a slight increase for local road aids before the increase was removed in the final version.

State Rep. Jill Billings, D-La Crosse, plans to meet with WisDOT Secretary Dave Ross in the coming weeks to talk about options for the project.


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.

(11) comments


GrandpaS is right; this isn't about politics, and it'd sure be nice if we could refrain from spinning just about any subject into a way to slam one's opposing political party.

This is obviously a bigger issue than what can be controlled financially at the city level, and so it's a bit ridiculous to blame the mayor for the city's perpetual infrastructure problems, which go back decades. If the money isn't there for all the reasons it isn't, the current mayor (regardless of his political party) is a bit hamstrung right?

I just wish that instead of being in a perpetual "patch and pray" mode that there'd be some sustainable, comprehensive plan to REPLACE roads more frequently (for heaven's sake; the "life span" of La Crosse Street ended about 10 years ago). Maybe there needs to be a reevaluation of the substances and methods used in order for: 1) The roadwork to withstand our weather and traffic; and 2) Figure out more effective ways to make repairs that will hold up further into the "life" of the road. It's frustrating to see city trucks (multiple workers sitting in the back) with one guy walking behind with a bucket of patching compound - you just KNOW that stuff won't hold up for any real length of useful time.

I gotta believe there are more efficient solutions out there...?

Buggs Raplin

I don't care how much it costs. We must have a beautiful street for the Hatched Baby to overlook.


Scooter can’t fix road but he can give generational money to the pie in the sky Fox Con Scam, and give them a green light to destroy the environment .


And yet, people would like nothing better than to build another road through the marsh. Another road they won't keep up the way it should be. Maybe the people that are so adamant about building another road through the marsh will think a little harder about that now.

union conservative

You can tell me the city did not know It was their responsibility this whole time. The city failed to maintain the road as they were supposed to and now wants the state to foot the bill. Liberalism at its finest. The city taxpayers will see huge increases in their bills in the coming years all because of poor leadership and the inability to manage the budget.


No, U con, the state has plans to repair the street in 2025. If it's been deteriorating for several years, and it has, a combination of city and state authorities should have come together to form a plan to do that, only a whole lot sooner. The fact that there's no state money to make that much needed repair much sooner sits on Madison's shoulders, regardless of their party, not on those darn liberals' shoulders. A bad road isn't a political problem, it's a construction problem, and both local and state authorities have missed the boat. And Senator Jen Schilling's complaint about Walker's lack of road repair money is accurate, although working toward a repair that happens sooner rather than finger pointing would be my first choice at this right now.


I think you and Union Conservative will continue to talk past each other, GrandpaS. You're both correct to a degree. You wrote, "a combination of city and state authorities should have come together to form a plan to do that, only a whole lot sooner." Who could disagree with this? It's accurate.

The trouble is, you went on and wrote, "The fact that there's no state money to make that much needed repair much sooner sits on Madison's shoulders, regardless of their party, not on those darn liberals' shoulders." Well, actually, it still is the city's responsibility and Jen Schilling's AND Walker's. It seems that any Republican would blame Schilling and any Democrat is inclined to blame Walker. I have to say, however, perhaps Jen Schilling should explain what she's been doing herself to solve the road issue for the last 17 years representing La Crosse in the Wisconsin Legislature. The road thing has turned into a political pissing match between La Crosse officials opposed to the DOT plans which has gone on for years and years with the state. It pre-dates Walker. It pre-dates Mayor Kabat and Jen Schilling. None of them have done much to solve it and here we are.

[(An apt metaphor here would be children abandoned/suffering at home while Daddy and Mommy spend all their time and money at the marriage counselor's office where they try to murder each other instead of working things out. Then they tell everyone, "We're staying together for the children.")]

The issue of La Crosse Street certainly has roots in the planning of the ill-fated North-South corridor. The state was prepared to pour a pile of money into La Crosse for building roads but they wanted to implement 'The WisDOT Plan' for area roads. Vocal locals said to WisDOT, "We don't want it." The latest attempt at a local DOT highway plan for La Crosse was shelved just last fall, indefinitely. Certainly, the La Crosse Street section of Hwy 16 and its useful life expectancy had to figure into that larger plan. I can see why it hasn't been repaired. Doesn't it seem silly to do substantial work to replace La Crosse Street if the larger plan changes the way that particular section of road is used?

A pile of resources have been directed toward studying these improvements and planning for decades. Much of the effort, planning and resources wasted; e.g. the Holiday Heights interchange. How do you suppose the rest of the State Legislature and professionals at the DOT view La Crosse in terms of priority after fighting with La Crosse officials for decades rather than cooperating and coming up with a plan?

I think we agree more than not on this, GrandpaS. However, if this were merely a construction problem and not a political problem, the roads would be done or fixed or built by now.


this is a poorly written article, it didn't clarify who is responsible for replacing the road. Maintaining the road is the cities responsibility, that is plowing the snow, filling in cracks and pot holes and or seal coating. the city gets paid yearly from the state to maintain the road. When it is finally time for complete redo or replacing the road, that is the state's responsibility. It has nothing to do with liberalism. It is just the way the system is set up. want to blame someone, blame walker and the GOP for short funding the DOT for years, There is however, plenty of money for fox conn and a new state office building in Milwaukee.

A Veteran

kingman --I would say a good share of the blame belongs on the city for not making sure that when the state spent all the millions on building at the university the city did not make sure that the contractors was responsible for the road.This is common practice in most states and cities.


it sure needs it more than losey Blvd does, which is probably the best road in the city


shut it down, next time governor sneaks into town maybe he'll think if he gets it fixed he'll get some votes

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