STH 16 (La Crosse Street)

Wisconsin Department of Transportation | La Crosse, WI
Aerial view of the reconstructed STH 16 (La Crosse Street) in La Crosse, WI. The new roadway cuts through residential areas and runs alongside the UW-La Crosse campus and includes new medians and left turn lanes.

STH 16 (La Crosse Street) from West Avenue to Losey Boulevard is a one-mile stretch of Connecting Highway that is the major east/west connector between two major north/south roadways, STH 16 and STH 35, in the heart of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Bordering the north side of University of Wisconsin La Crosse campus, the La Crosse Street corridor serves commercial, residential, multi-modal and emergency services users.

Severely deteriorated pavement, outdated public utilities, and safety concerns along the corridor provided an opportunity for a reimagined corridor, blending tried and true safety mitigation measures and roadway design practices with creative traffic calming and sustainability practices.

Benesch led the design of the project, including coordination between two other consultants responsible for completing traffic signal improvements at the intersection of La Crosse Street and West Avenue, and water main and sanitary sewer replacement along the corridor.

Physical constraints such as the UW-La Crosse Campus, Oak Grove Cemetery, Myrick Park and residences limited expansion of the footprint of new La Crosse Street, necessitating improvements to be within the existing sidewalks. The project required integration of a curbed median in areas where left turns could be eliminated. The perceptibly narrower travel way acted as a traffic calming measure, and the median area provided an opportunity to enhance project sustainability. Sustainable median biocells were added to improve water quality by reducing total suspended solids (TSS) in storm water runoff. Additional intersection corner bump-outs were added allowing for more biocells, assisting the City of La Crosse with their overall reduction in TSS on a system-wide basis.

This project involved a number of complexities, including design schedule and coordination between separate design teams. This was considered a fast-track design; the design team had 11 months for preliminary design, and 18 months for final design, right-of-way acquisition for curb ramp reconstruction and utility relocation design. Not only were two other consultants completing separate pieces of the overall design under separate contracts with the city of La Crosse, but WisDOT was also completing the design of a new traffic signal at East Avenue and the lighting design.

In order to meet the project design schedule and to coordinate with all the major stakeholders–including WisDOT, city engineering staff, city council members, local community groups, UW-La Crosse, utilities and the other designers–Benesch coordinated and led monthly meetings during the design phase. Those meetings helped shape the vision of La Crosse Street and create a construction sequencing plan that preserved access to major traffic generators and adjacent properties. Timely coordination and communication were key to the successful delivery of the project, and innovative traffic calming measures within the framework of the standard TWLTL were essential to reimagining the corridor.

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