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Despite dramatic narrowing, fire chief says Cass Street not a problem for trucks



Cass Street in La Crosse has been narrowed significantly with new bump-outs.

But will it cause problems for emergency vehicles?

La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam was in the WIZM studio and talked about those concerns.

La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam joined Mitch Reynolds in studio on Dec. 4, 2018.

Gilliam said, in ideal conditions, turning a big rig right off of Cass Street is doable. When snow starts piling up, however? Maybe not so much.

“The way they’re built, we can get through there,” Gilliam said. “As things start to impact that, and close that gap, that’s where it gets a little more dicey. We’re gonna get through. It’s just going to slow us down.”

Gilliam added, however, that his crews know where the bump-outs are and keep an eye on all key routes in the city to insure there aren’t surprises when an emergency happens.

“We know what they look like and we’re gonna try and swing the corners wide and make it happen,” he said. “The bump-outs cause us some concern, depending on how their built. There’s different flare outs. It’s really the dynamics of how a fire truck is going to make a right-hand turn.”

Gilliam stopped short of criticizing the design that has bike lanes that dead end at the sidewalk bump-outs on the north side of the street, forcing bicyclists out into lanes of traffic, which are made significantly narrower by those same bump-outs.

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  1. Ken Bernstein

    December 6, 2018 at 7:33 am

    Two comments: (1) City buses cannot fit in the marked bus stops (e.g., on the south side of Cass, west of 11th Street). Therefore, they stop in the traffic lane. The only way for a vehicle–either a car or an emergency vehicle–to pass is to wait for the bus to move or to drive into the lane of the opposing traffic. (2) The article says that there is a bike lane ONLY on the north side of Cass; this is wrong, as bike lanes are marked on BOTH sides of Cass St.

  2. Randy hubert

    December 6, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    Why do we keep trying to share busy streets with bikes when any smart biker knows they can go a block over on a much less traveled street going the same didection. We have Truck routes for trucks why not use non busy streets like King going the same way for bikes. Make some of these streets one way and have a true bike lane not one that darts you into trafic.

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