Dubuque road work hurting businesses - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque road work hurting businesses


Some business owners along Dubuque's Central Avenue are upset after nearly a month of construction work. They took their complaints to Monday night's City Council meeting, saying the work is causing them to lose customers.

The city has closed off Central Avenue, which is also US Highway 52, from 21st Street to 32nd Street as part of its resurfacing project. The same stretch was closed for about four months last year as part of that project.

Heidi Koltes owns Heidi's Baked Goods, on the corner of Central Avenue and 27th Street. She opened it in September 2010.

"We have nothing except for this bakery," Koltes said. "This is all we have."

She said business was going well until construction on Central Avenue started May 9, which stopped all traffic flow in front of her store.

"We're not asking for a handout," Koltes said, referring to herself and other Central Avenue business owners. "We're asking for something, either be a way to open up the road, either be a way to get us more accessibility."

In last year's Central Avenue construction, which started in July and spanned through November, the work happened in several-block segments, so traffic could flow freely around those spots. This year, the entire stretch is now closed, although the city provided signs along the Jackson Street detour, pointing customers to the Central Avenue businesses.

Owners say they're still hurting.

"My sales are down 64 percent," Koltes said.

Aaron Fagan owns Fagan's Shoe Repair and Hobbies.

"Right now, the only thing I've seen is my regulars," Fagan said. "Even weekends, where people are in visiting, I'm not seeing nothing on Fridays. My Fridays and Saturdays are like a Wednesday. They're just dead."

Bill Beauchamp, owner of Tri-State Auto Sales, said police officers are ticketing some of his customers for trying to access his shop by Central Avenue.

"The sales are nonexistent, thanks to this," he said, nodding toward the construction, "but the service is all we have left. If they keep writing tickets to my customers, there won't be any service, either."

Drivers who need to are allowed to take the shortest route possible to reach a business on Central, but both Mike Ansel and Mike Wells got citations for taking what they thought were short enough routes.

"It says right here on the ticket: failure to obey a traffic control device," Mike Wells said, holding up his citation. "I was down here to see that business man and left and got this $195 ticket, just for driving half a block through this construction zone."

Wells was visiting Beauchamp at Tri-State Auto Sales and took a portion of Central Avenue to get to and from the shop.

Mike Ansel said he was purchasing soda at Kwikstop, 2360 Central Avenue, and then crossed the street in his car to make an oil change appointment at Big A Auto Parts, 2311 Central Avenue.

"Even with the police there, I didn't think I was doing any violation at all," Ansel said.

He, too, however, received a $195 ticket for failure to obey a traffic control device.

Dubuque police lieutenant Scott Baxter said the strict enforcement is to prevent and discourage motorists from traveling on Central Avenue, as that poses a safety hazard to construction workers.

"We just ask motorists to be very vigilant as to what the signs are indicating," Baxter said. "If there's ever any confusion, maybe just stay out of that zone altogether, like I said, and park maybe a block or two away and walk in."

Good news may be on the horizon for business owners and motorists alike.

"Depending on weather, things like that, two to three weeks, we anticipate opening Central Avenue from 21st to 32nd street," Dubuque's assistant city engineer Bob Schiesl said.

The plan is to open just one lane of Central Avenue, due to the resurfacing work, but that would last through the end of the project, which is set for completion by September 2.

Part of the project is the bring curbs and sidewalks into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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