Construction hits Edgerton businesses

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Jake Magee
May 10, 2015

EDGERTON—The Decoy Bar and Grill parking lot stood almost empty last week as construction workers repaired concrete along the northbound lane of Highway 51.

Customers had a hard time finding the entrance to the parking lot past the construction equipment and orange barrels, owner Tom Kuhlow said.

“Now that they dug our side up starting Monday, we're virtually cut off,” Kuhlow said. “Unless you're looking for an opening (between) the barrels, you ain't going to see it. You're going to miss it.

“This whole week's going to be kind of a loser,” he said.

Kuhlow wasn't the only one suffering.

Jason Cowley, owner of the Piggly Wiggly next door, felt the pangs of roadwork, too.

Only one of two entrances to the grocery store remained open.

“It has obviously upset our customers. It's made it difficult for them to come into our store and leave our store,” he said.

Early in the week, a semi-trailer truck got stuck in the mud and gravel driveway, delaying customer traffic even more.

“I know customers that normally come daily aren't coming daily. They're coming once every three days or something like that,” Cowley said.

Roadwork along Highway 51 stretches from the Highway 73/51 interchange at Interstate 90/39 north of Edgerton to the intersection of Highways 51 and 14 near Janesville.

There's more to come.

Construction on Lord Street between Quigley and Orchard streets on the south side of Edgerton starts Monday, May 11, and goes through Saturday, May 16. Like the construction farther north, workers will patch concrete, reducing traffic to a single lane.

Ehlert Funeral Homes is the only business along the three-block stretch, but the owners aren't worried. Construction workers will leave at least half of the home's 22-foot-wide driveway open at all times, Russ Ehlert said.

“It really doesn't bother me because there isn't much you do about it,” he said. “It has to be done.”

If necessary, the funeral home might arrange services at a church instead of the home, but nothing is planned for the week the construction takes place, Ehlert said.

The Highway 51 work will pave the way for an expected 15 percent increase in traffic next year as people reroute through Edgerton to avoid Interstate construction. Edgerton's only traffic light intersection at Highways 59 and 51 could see as many 14,000 cars a day—double its current amount, state Department of Transportation project manager Derek Potter said.

“That's a major concern for us,” Cowley said. “When you have a whole Interstate full of cars rerouted down here, there's not going to be a way for customers to get in and out. You come up here when there's no construction, and it's tough to make a left turn some days, and that's with no rerouted traffic.”

The city allocated $4,000 to the Edgerton Chamber of Commerce for an advertising campaign during Interstate construction, City Administrator Ramona Flanigan said.

“They will certainly promote the idea that we're here and open for business, so feel free to come,” she said.

The extra traffic isn't likely to boost Cowley or Kuhlow's businesses, they said.

“If you're driving and you get rerouted through a small town, are you going to stop, or do you just want to keep going because you're already slowed up?” Cowley asked.

“People don't drive by and stop at bars, generally,” Kuhlow said.

But no matter how frustrating or annoying it can be, Cowley knows construction is a necessary part of life.

“It's one of the four seasons, right?” he said. “Fall, winter, spring and then construction.”

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