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Prairie Springs to go before Building Commission a third time



Two building projects at UW-La Crosse that have the support of both the current Democratic governor of Wisconsin and the former Republican governor, could come up for votes again Thursday before the Wisconsin Building Commission.

The panel is considering a university system budget that would include the second Prairie Springs science building and a new parking ramp for the La Crosse campus.

The Prairie Springs project was estimated to cost around $187 million, according to the UW System, while the price tag for the parking ramp near the Center for the Arts is around $34 million. That project could include new offices for campus police.

La Crosse state Assembly Rep. Jill Billings, the chair of the subcommittee, voted for the project funding, but a tie vote along party lines guaranteed that all the items on the budget would move ahead without a recommendation.

Members of the commission have deadlocked twice before on capital budgets that include the Prairie Springs project in La Crosse. It’s expected there will be another tie vote this time.

UW System vice president Alex Roe promoted Prairie Springs before a subcommittee of the building commission on Wednesday.

“The College of Science and Health serves more than 40 percent of the overall student body on campus,” she said. “Specialized support spaces such as the greenhouse, herbarium, and botany lab will be constructed, along with 10 additional wet and dry labs for chemistry, geography, physics, and statistics.”

Roe says nearly 87 percent of the local science graduates stay and work in Wisconsin, which is why employers such as Gundersen Health System, Mayo Clinic Health System and Kwik Trip have endorsed Prairie Springs.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers toured the UW-L campus this month to promote construction of the second science building. The first part of Prairie Springs opened five years ago.

A year ago, former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, who was the interim US System President, also promoted the completion of the Prairie Springs project.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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