You don’t have to be a traffic engineer to know that La Crosse Street is in lousy shape.
It’s our namesake street, for goodness sake.
It links the beautiful drive along the bluff to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus, Myrick Park and the La Crosse River marsh, Western Technical College and our fast-growing downtown.
It’s a gateway to our community, and let’s be honest: If you’re hoping for a good first impression, La Crosse Street isn’t providing it.
As soon as you pull off Hwy. 16 heading toward downtown, you feel the potholes and the bumps before you reach 24th Street (that’s the first street you reach).
There’s a sign just before you reach 23rd Street that measures the speed of your vehicle. It’s important to keep your speed to the posted 25 mph — especially because of the pedestrian and bike traffic to and from Emerson Elementary as well as campus and the park.
But if you commute that stretch regularly, you already know that exceeding the speed limit there may result in having your axle handed to you.
Here’s our advice: Let’s get the city and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to collaborate on making the ride safer and smoother — and soon.
Mayor Tim Kabat is frustrated by the condition of La Crosse Street — and he should be, for everyone’s sake. He’s also frustrated because he doesn’t believe fixing the street is high enough on the state’s priority list.
So, the mayor figures the best way to handle it is repair the street in 2019 and send the bill to the state.
That may be the best way to get attention for the problem — and that’s important.
But we’d like to see the city and WisDOT sit down after the spring thaw and determine a workable solution at a time when state funding hasn’t kept up with deteriorating roads.
La Crosse Street is considered a connecting highway. That means it’s a local road that connects traffic from a state highway, Hwy. 16 is, into the city. The state provides aid to municipalities to repair connecting highways. Once the road has reached the end of its useful life, the state funds a longer-term solution.
At this point, the state doesn’t plan to replace it until 2025.
Clearly, there isn’t going to be much pavement left by then if nothing substantial is done to repair it.
Can WisDOT work with city engineers this spring to determine why the road is in such bad shape — and possible remedies? It can, indeed.
The city and the state should conduct a thorough inspection, determine a plan of action and be willing to change priorities to make large-scale work on La Crosse Street happen much sooner.
Let’s collaborate on the right solution to make driving into our community a smoother, safer experience.