According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, La Crosse Street will be reconstructed in 2022 with a design that adds a center turn lane for “safety.”
The problem with the plan is that it will actually make La Crosse Street less safe, because adding a center turn lane will require the removal of all the street trees.
On average, adding a center turn lane reduces the crash rate by 20.3%, which sounds good, until you consider that street trees reduce the crash rate by 46%, by making the street feel narrower than it really is.
Street trees are considered the best investment a city can make because they also increase property values, provide protection from the elements, reduce pollution and much more.
If WisDOT wants to improve safety, these treatments are proven to do so:
- Planting more street trees.
- Protecting the bike lanes with a buffer from traffic.
- Raised crosswalks or intersections.
- Removing the yellow center line.
- Lowering the speed limit.
- Reducing the traffic lane width to 10 feet.
WisDOT is holding a meeting from 5-7 pm on Thursday, Oct. 24 in the Allen Conference Room at the UW-L Cleary Alumni Center, 615 East Avenue N. If you want La Crosse Street to be safe for everyone, please attend the meeting and voice your concerns or email the project manager Craig Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask WisDOT to use other proven safety methods instead of widening La Crosse Street.
Editor's note: Matthew Gallager, deputy director of Engineering & Public Works for the city of La Crosse, said no decision has been made on removing trees.
"Various alternatives are being considered that could affect only one side, or possibly both sides, of the street, regarding removal of trees," Gallager said. "Some removal of trees will be required, regardless of final roadway configuration, due to necessary Storm Water Utility work on the south side of the street, as the exiting deteriorated storm pipes are located in the southern boulevard. The final roadway configuration will be made by the DOT, with input from the city, with additional consideration from the Parks, Rec, & Forestry Department determining which trees can feasibly survive the project. All interested parties should attend and participate in the public involvement meeting to document their comments and concerns."