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City going forward with study over possibility of river cruise ship docks

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) — The city of La Crosse is taking big, bold steps in working toward accommodating more visitors by boat.

The La Crosse Board of Public Works approved Phase II of a study that looks at constructing cruise ship landings at the Riverside Park waterfront. This next phase includes validation for cruise and steamboat companies, environmental impact surveys, public input, informational meetings, and an assessment of the current infrastructure. The city has received interest from multiple cruise ship companies.

“We want to accommodate everybody who wants to make a stop,” said Mayor Tim Kabat.

SmithGroup Architecture will build off of their Phase I study. Evaluating the infrastructure around the park and in the water will be critical for the plausibility and success of the project.

“If you are able to combine an opportunity to make the levee system again more resilient, more able to withstand water, and you get additional places where big boats can dock, I think that’s really a win-win type of project,” said Mayor Kabat.

A few of the cruise ship companies have already offered to pay for some of the costs for the upgrades but not for the full cost which could reach into the millions. The city will pay SmithGroup $172,000 for Phase II. This phase also includes attaining and negotiating permits for the project. The cost for securing those permits will not exceed $15,000. Phase II altogether is expected to take six months with designs and renderings of the new waterfront coming in December.

Mayor Kabat looks at the project as an investment into the future of La Crosse.

If we are going to encourage and try to grow our overall economy with things like tourism and visitor stays, these are some of those investments we really are looking at.”

Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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