State to build new rest stop in La Crosse - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

State to build new rest stop in La Crosse

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The state plans to build a new rest stop to replace the one in La Crosse on Interstate 90. Governor Scott Walker announced Wednesday that the new rest stop will be built in 2016 in coordination with planned reconstruction on the Interstate. 

Gov. Walker said the facility will continue to provide space for the state Department of Tourism and the La Crosse Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and other area tourism organizations.

Walker and local community leaders talked about the importance of the facility Monday. It serves as a gateway to Wisconsin for many travelers coming from the West.

Since the rest stop is right off the first exit into the state, it's the first thing that many travelers see when they come into Wisconsin. “This investment in a new rest area provides a safe place for travelers to stop, and also offers us an opportunity to showcase our great state, and strengthen our commitment to promoting travel and tourism in the beautiful La Crosse area and statewide,” said Governor Scott Walker.

The current rest area opened in 1977 and includes rest rooms, vending machines, recycling bins and picnic and pet exercise areas. There is also a short scenic trail with views of the Mississippi River.

Dave Clements, Executive Director of La Crosse Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said each year 60,000 people come into the rest stop's welcome center and upgrading the rest stop would only mean that number would go up.

"When people come into your house, you want them to come in the front door and you want it to look nice, so what better way to do that then have a nice first class facility here," said Clements.

The rest stop is almost 40 years old and in need of a facelift, said Clements. He said it needs more public space, updated restrooms, year round outdoor seating, and more room for brochures and marketing materials for the welcome center. The center is staffed 7 days a week from April to October with volunteers and staff from the Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Volunteers like Nancy Casper are able to personally help every visitor.

"They're apprehensive but when they leave here they have a plan and they have ideas," said Casper.

Governor Walker said that tourism in the state has gone up 4% in the last year locally but getting those visitors to stay and visit different areas is the hard part.

The state will pay the cost of the renovation, estimated by the Governor at about $3.5 million.

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