Businesses now worry long-planned La Crosse Street reconstruction will harm bottom line

Businesses fear lost revenue during $6.7 million project

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Josie Sullivan has lived in La Crosse for about two and a half years. She says the poor quality of La Crosse Street has damaged her car.

“It hurts my car a lot when I drive on it,” Sullivan said.

After more than a decade of planning, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation broke ground Monday on its $6.7 million project to renovate La Crosse Street.

The project, expected to be completed by May, includes two, 11-foot driving lanes, a 12-foot center turning lane and bike lanes, among other changes.

“We’re going to be doing water and sanitary upgrades, street lighting, signals, new curbs and gutters, sidewalks, pavements and we’re going to have a bi-directional turn lane,” said Mike Novey, an engineer who is managing the project.

Meanwhile, some business owners are concerned that the project will hurt their bottom lines.

Laurie Miller, co-owner of Cool Beans Coffee Shop on La Crosse Street, said she may have to cut some of her employees’ hours if the shop’s finances take a hit during the renovations.

“My husband and I like to joke that we survived COVID, but we’re not sure if we’re going to survive the road construction project,” said Miller.

The construction on La Crosse Street probably will hurt business because summer is already a slow time for the coffee shop, she said. The business she co-owns was not given information from the state or the city before the changes took place.

“We didn’t have an opportunity to ask questions,” she said. “We’ve really just been getting information over the past week or so about what’s been going on.”

A representative of La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds said it’s the state’s job to inform business owners about the impact of their projects. A consultant for the state said business owners were consulted about the renovations but did not say which ones were contacted specifically.

The changes to La Crosse Street are going to take place in three phases. The first phase is from West Avenue North to East Avenue North; the second, from East Avenue North to Hillview Avenue, and the third, from Hillview to Losey Boulevard. The first phase is expected to be completed by August.

The La Crosse Street renovation also includes new pedestrian beacons.

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