More frustration is brewing between the City of La Crosse and the Wisconsin DOT.
A sorely needed plan to resurface Jackson Street is three years away. The DOT asked the city for official direction, specifically from neighborhoods on how to proceed.
"If you're not interested in the input, then why are you asking for it to begin with?" Mayor Kabat said, following a somewhat tense Board of Public Works Meeting on Monday morning.
The stretch of road in question runs from 3rd Street down Jackson and State Road to just 100 feet from Losey Boulevard. Public input was gathered from three neighborhood association meetings and property owners on an initial plan put forward looking to add bike lanes and remove a lane of parking. According to Planning and Development, the neighborhood associations were not opposed to bike lanes and suggested the northern side of the street to remove parking to make room.
Those outright opposed raised concerns of safety by having bicycles and cars on the same space and that removing parking might force more parked vehicles into the surrounding neighborhoods.
To address safety of bikes and pedestrians, the city asked the DOT to look into the possibility of one “protected bike lane” with it's own two-way traffic.
"[It's] more clearly defined separation between motorists and bicycles," Mayor Kabat said.
But the DOT says they likely won't do it for the same concerns.
"We're stuck between the existing curb and gutters so we only have so much room to work with," said Todd Waldo, project manager with the Wisconsin DOT.
The plan would technically fit, but under minimal conditions.
"...minimal driving lanes, minimal parking widths, minimal bike lanes, that's the minimal of everything," Waldo said. "That really doesn't provide the safest condition out there."
But the mayor says the data needs to be there before pushing that completely off the table.
"I'll admit I was a little frustrated because it does not sound like the DOT is considering that at all," Mayor Kabat said. "I didn't really get a sense that they have any strong information to back up why they were opposed to it, I mean we have the right-of-way width there especially if we're reducing the travel lanes by a foot each."
Kabat said this project sets the tone for the kind of improvements made to other projects in the future. He plans to continue to push for the protected bike lane but the DOT says if so, they may push back the project as a result.
Currently it is scheduled for 2021.
This is the second frustration between the city and the DOT this year. The city plans to fix La Crosse Street, another connecting highway under the DOT's responsibility, and then seek reimbursement from the state, arguing that the fixes can not wait any longer.