Renovations to Pearl Street in La Crosse aim to make it more accessible, with more pedestrian traffic

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Pearl Street is one of the best places people visit when they come to La Crosse, and it could soon get a new look. City officials and ISG Engineering plan to renovate the historic street.

Officials hope to make the street more accessible to people with disabilities and more accessible to families. They are including business owners in the process.

“I think it’s important to get it right and accommodate as many interests as possible,” said Jason Gilman, who is part of ISG engineering.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans to renovate Third and Fourth Streets. Pearl will cross paths with DOT plans.

“We plan ahead for these things and don’t react the year they’re done,” Gilman said.

Pearl business owners say they hope the renovations will increase foot traffic.

“Make it very user-friendly, tourist-friendly and open up that path to the river,” said Nancy Neil, owner of Outrageous Boutique.

Kroner Hardware sales manager Mark Flottmeyer says he’s glad the city is helping to renovate the street.

“Most of the work is done by individual shop owners, a lot of building maintenance and renovation, a lot of people are just freshening up,” Flottmeyer said.

Utilities need fixing, he said.

“We had a problem with the sewer in the building next door and when they destroyed the street last year they were wondering where all those pipes came from?” said Flottmeyer. “And they were as well, that one is wooden, so I don’t know!”

Neil said she wanted to see improvements rather than a complete change.

“Keep the old look, but give it something special,” Neil said. “Maybe lighting, maybe arches, lots of flowers.”

She expressed her excitement about being part of the reconstruction.

“Well, I’m not looking forward to having the street torn up, but I think it’s a good idea and the results are worth it,” Neil said.

Flottmeyer said he hoped Pearl would not be closed to vehicles, as some have suggested, and could be a shared space for everyone.

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