The Wisconsin DOT will be doing long overdue maintenance work on La Crosse Street in the city of La Crosse. As part of this work, they are planning to add a 12-foot 2-way turn lane to “improve safety.” To accommodate the added roadway, the boulevard width will be reduced and trees will be removed. These are the 87 boulevard trees currently along La Crosse Street between Losey Boulevard and West Avenue. (The first 30 are on the south side, heading west, the next 57 are on the north side, heading east.)
I have asked the consultant handling public involvement for the DOT about the removal of the trees and was told that questions will not be responded to until the public comment period is over, August 14.
Information about the project can be found here.
Not all of the trees are completely healthy and some of them are rather goofy looking after being trimmed to accommodate power lines, but they are not worth sacrificing for driver convenience.
This is an excerpt from my response to the plan update:
With the rationale for the widening being that drivers are rear-ending each other, were other means of slowing down drivers to prevent this considered?
It seems that what is probably happening is that drivers coming from the north-south corridor, accustomed to the more highway-like roadway, are expecting to continue moving with the same, fast ease. And by widening this street, that expectation will be better met. The trade-off will be a more treacherous street for those traveling by bicycle or walking. Removing the trees will also make it less comfortable for those modes of travel. Giving up dozens of trees in exchange for a wider street and a couple of rapid flashing beacons is not a humane trade and will not encourage more people to travel by bicycle, take the bus, or walk.
Also, rear-end crashes with other vehicles are rarely serious or fatal. Crashes with people walking or bicycling, especially when drivers are moving at greater than 25 mph, often are.