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Riverside Park’s Levee Capital Improvement Project looks to add more riverboat space

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Mayor Mitch Reynolds - City of La Crosse
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Jim Flottmeyer - Project Specialist - La Crosse Parks and Recreation Forestry Department
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Proposed Levee Project
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Section of Levee to be Improved
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The City of La Crosse Planning Commission reviewed the budget for the $2.4 million dollar Capital Improvement Project to develop the levee on the north end of Riverside Park. It now has an approved bid and construction is expected to begin this fall.

Mayor Mitch Reynolds says the structural integrity of the levee is a top priority for the city. "Improving the levee is essential because that's part of public safety," Reynolds said. "Helping to keep floods at bay and things like that."

But the project has a two-fold benefit for this improvement. Public Safety....and also to make room for more riverboat docking space. Riverboats like the American Duchess, which was docked at the park Friday and also last week. A regular visitor, the Duchess accommodates approximately 165 guests who disembark into the city seeing the sights.

With seven planned stops next summer, the "Viking Mississippi", a 386 passenger vessel with a large berth is heading our way. The ship is operated by Viking River Cruises which, along with the American Queen Steamboat Company, is excited La Crosse is making room for more. So much so, they both contributed funds to help the project cross the finish line.

The blueprints outline the section of levee to be improved. Project Specialist, Jim Flottmeyer from the La Crosse Parks and Recreation Forestry Department, says having two ships docked at once is going to be a spectacle.

"The Viking Cruise line ship is 450 feet long," Flottmeyer said. "So we're building 500 additional feet along Riverside Park here to accommodate their boat." Flottmeyer added, "We wanted, the City of La Crosse wanted, the ability to have two of the big boats here at any given time. And I believe, looking at the schedule, it happens a couple of times next year where they'll both be here."

Mayor Reynolds also thinks it's a great move for the city to help the downtown economy. "It'll be fantastic! For immediate access for those coming off the river," Reynolds said. "And just a quick jaunt for those folks to come into our downtown or take advantage of our great parks or whatever else they would like to do in the City of La Crosse."

Construction isn't expected to disrupt much of what goes on at Riverside Park. Perhaps a lane closure or temporary road closures to move the heavy machinery in and out. Groundbreaking in the Fall and it continues on through the Winter with and estimated completion in early Spring of 2022.

In case you're wondering, Rotary Lights will not be interrupted. Construction ceases just before the lights go up and starts back up again when the lights go off for the last time at the end of the holiday season.

Both riverboat cruises have trips ready for scheduling. check them out at these websites: Viking Mississippi (vikingrivercruises.com) and Mississippi River Cruises | AQSC (americanqueensteamboatcompany.com)

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Joe Minney

Joe is Weekend News Anchor at WXOW

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