Businesses see loss in customers due to construction on Highway 51Submitted: 06/12/2018
Erin Beu
Erin Beu

Businesses see loss in customers due to construction on Highway 51
WOODRUFF - People heading through Highway 51 between Woodruff and Arbor Vitae will find themselves surrounded by traffic cones, dug up roads and broken stop lights.

It's part of a $9.3 million reconstruction project.

But it's not just drivers who have to work around the dust and demolition, local businesses do too.

"I'm pretty sure the customers are avoiding this side of town," said Outback Bar and Grill owner Ron Schiscl.

He says this summer his sales are lower than normal for the busy tourist season.

"From last year we are probably down 60 percent," said Schiscl.

His business is on one of the main stretches of Highway 51 that's being worked on as part of the $9.3 million improvement project.

"We have 50,000 cars going by a day and they cannot get into [out driveway]," said Schiscl.

Since April, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has started reconstruction on parts of Highway 51 and 47 that are in bad condition.

Summer Ice Shanty owner Bob Hille also has to work around the construction right outside his shave ice shop.

"The noise was sometimes a little problematic. We couldn't hear someone giving us their order," said Hille.

Hille says he hasn't seen a loss in customers. But they did have to close their doors for half a day for safety reasons.

Construction Project Leader Kai Kilen says the project will fix decaying pavement, water mains, street lighting, and traffic signals in certain areas.

"We have to work on all the finishing touches we need to do before the asphalt pavers can come in next week," said Kilen.

A project people like Schiscl know is necessary even if they aren't happy about it.

"Right now we just gotta deal with it," said Schiscl.

Kilen says Highway 51 will be open back up at the end of this month.

The crews will then shift construction to Highway 47 until August.

The full project will be ongoing until October of next year

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