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Traffic to be diverted for Onalaska Chick-Fil-A grand opening



The Onalaska Chick-Fil-A just off of Highway 16, a few weeks before the Sept. 8, 2022, grand opening (PHOTO: Rick Solem)

Less than a week away from Chick-Fil-A grand opening in Onalaska just off Highway 16 near the Valley View Mall.

In terms of traffic, that area can already be a bit of a hassle at times.

On the north side of that intersection, the Starbucks drive-thru can be backed up throughout the entire parking lot and sometimes into the road. On the south end, drivers often try and make a U-turn out of the Kwik Trip lot to get back to Highway 16.

With Chick-Fil-A opening Thursday, Onalaska Police Chief Charles Ashbeck told WIZM they will be diverting traffic.

“In a nutshell, we are not going to allow cars turning onto South Kinney (Coulee Road) … to make a left-hand turn into Chick-Fil-A,” Ashbeck said. “They’re going to have to go further down the road, maybe go around Gundersen Drive and then come back towards Chick-Fil-A and make a right-hand turn into it.”

The Chick-Fil-A drive-thru, a couple weeks before the Sept. 8, 2022, grand opening. (PHOTO: Rick Solem)

While drivers won’t have an issue getting out of Chick-Fil-A (map), those coming out of the Kwik Trip across the road will surely be waiting to make a left onto South Kinney and toward Highway 16.

Ashbeck said, if you can, go right out of the Kwik Trip lot toward Dick’s Sporting Goods, that would be a better way to get on Highway 16 — though you’ll only be able to turn right, toward the interstate.

“Probably a less headache, doing that, if we can divert people off in that direction,” Ashbeck said, adding they will be monitoring traffic.

“We’re not actually going to assign anybody out there,” he said. “Chick-Fil-A is talking about possibly hiring (an) off-duty officer out there to manage the area, but we’re still discussing those plans.”

Onalaska Mayor Kim Smith agreed, the traffic could be troublesome for those first few days but the plan in the beginning was laid out as best it could be to keep things as uncongested as possible.

“(The Chick-Fil-A entrance was) put on the site in such a way they were the farthest possible they could be from the street light,” Smith said. “And then, also, the fact that when you leave the parking lot, you’ll be turning right and going toward the street light.”

Asked if a traffic circle in the area might be a possibility in the future, Smith said that would likely be the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s responsibility, as it is so close to the state Highway 16.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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