New eagle viewing area officially open for use

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Part of the $65 million Highway 53 project, Wednesday the eagle viewing area at what local officials call "The Gateway to La Crosse" on the northside, has officially opened.

"This is probably going to be one of the go-to spots for people who come visit me in town. This, Grandad's Bluff, I think the two will go hand in hand and I think it's really a great addition to the city. I mean you can't ask for anything else," said Thomas Hang of La Crosse.

Business leaders from the northside, past mayors and city council members, as well as the people in those positions today, helped with the project.

The idea to have an eagle viewing area off of Exit 3 was brought up more than ten years ago.

"This was one of the very first projects that was identified. The Black River Beach, it was the old bath house that now is the community center and this project. Those kind of popped to the top right away because people saw the benefit of getting people connected as well as just making it more safe," said La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat.

In the past, people would pull onto the shoulder of the road and get out of their car to view eagles over the Black River.

Some residents said it could be distracting as drivers.

The new area ensures people can appreciate the beauty with no more risk.

"Coming here every day to work from 90 on to the road here and turning into work. I come by here everyday and it is a beautiful spot and it's really nice that the city has accommodated people being able to stop safely and see our beautiful resources that we have here," said Cody Bartz of Houston, MN.

The area includes parking, benches facing the river, binoculars to spot eagles and trails.

"We maybe living here take a little bit for granted, is just how beautiful this area is," said Kabat.

Now everybody in the region, and those who visit, can take a few minutes, stop and enjoy.

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