Commuting through Winona


From: Justin Jaszewski

I am unsure when the last survey occurred. Nevertheless, I would like to make a suggestion for a new traffic time-study around the city of Winona, with special attention to Highway 61 and the traffic light programming. I currently pass through Winona six days every week on the way to work in La Crosse, Wis. I have adjusted my departure time over and over, in an effort to reduce my total travel time and fuel consumption for my commute. My un-scientific experiment hasn’t yielded any improvements. The signal lights just are not synchronized for efficient travel times through town.

Even when traveling the posted speed limits between signals that are within visual distance of each other, motorists are forced to come to a complete stop, only for the light to immediately turn green. This is especially frustrating around the Hy-Vee/Kmart shopping area, where the lights often seem to have a mind of their own, without any apparent correlation. Truly, a few seconds would make a substantial difference.

Additionally, intersections with the roadway sensors for cross-traffic, which were an improvement at the time they were installed, have become a burden during the morning/evening commute. During busy hours on Highway 61, we’re given yet another red light, when just one vehicle trips the sensor to make a left turn. The sensors are certainly useful when there is minimal traffic such as the VERY early morning or LATE evening when few cars are on the road. It would be beneficial to Highway 61 travelers if the sensitivity were lessened or limited during peak hours and instead functioned on a coordinated schedule. Perhaps the peak hours need more study.

The signals on Mankato Avenue are equally haphazard and not conducive to steady traffic flow. Downtown streets, between Franklin and Huff streets, and from Second to Huff streets are comparatively miscommunicated. As these are major “arteries” through town, I’m confused about why the light-timing is such an impediment to get where you’re going in a timely and EFFICIENT fashion around our small city. I suspect gas stations don’t mind.

I realize traffic patterns continually change over the years, even seasonally around Winona when all of the college students arrive/leave. I recognize there are occurrences that simply cannot be planned for, such as accidents, pedestrians, and weather-related circumstances. However, I do believe efficiency can be improved with our traffic flow.

Red lights are a fact of life, there’s no getting around that.

Still, in my opinion, with some careful planning and adjustments I believe Winona’s five-mile commute can be improved and provide a TREMENDOUS savings at the pump.


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