I-90 construction could force businesses to close

Construction is set to begin in 2017

Businesses on La Crosse’s northside are worried about road construction closing them down.

Road work on Interstate-90 in La Crosse will stretch beyond the interstate over the next few years, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is planning on widening the road near Rose and George streets and that may force some businesses to close their doors.

Jim Rohe, project development chief engineer with the DOT, said the DOT has been working with businesses on the northside for the past few years trying to solve this problem and it might be too late in the design phase to find a solution. But the city of La Crosse is standing behind it’s businesses to try to slow down the process and find something that satisfies everyone.

The Good Steward Resale Shop has been on the corner of West George and Rose Streets since 2002. Board of control president at the store, Henry Leibl, said the DOT’s plan for West George will take away a big chunk of its property.

“What will change on West George is we will have no exit out of our property into West George Street,” Leibl said.

The current DOT plan has two left-hand turn lanes coming off of south Rose Street onto West George, which would force West George to be widened, possibly putting the Resale Shop and McDonald’s down the street out of business.

The DOT reports there were more than 100 crashes that happened at this intersection because of the traffic.

“We’re hoping by bringing two lanes around and with a raised median, people won’t be making that left turn until that intersection we’re going to construct a little closer to Kwik Trip,” Rohe said.

But Nick Roush, president of the North La Crosse Business Association, said taking away those access points into the businesses along W George could be detrimental to them.

“If I can see your business, but I’m challenged to get to your business, it’s harder for me to do business there,” Roush said.

So he is hoping a new plan from the city of La Crosse can sway the DOT in a different direction.

“Creating more green space along the waterfront and more space for the eagle watch, wildlife watch area, as well as slowing some of the traffic speeds down, adding some pedestrian and bicycle facilities,” La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said.

Kabat said the city, DOT and North La Crosse Business Association met this week to discuss the plans the city has. The DOT will take the next few weeks to see if those ideas can be incorporated into its plans.

The design of the project needs to be finished by next summer to begin construction in 2017.