Future of Rogers Market in jeopardy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Future of Rogers Market in jeopardy


A dangerous section of Highway 218 may soon see some big changes that Iowa Department of Transportation officials say will improve safety.  But at least one family is concerned the changes will put them out of business.

This week, the Iowa D.O.T. showed off several proposals for the stretch of Highway 218 between Cedar Falls and Waverly. The D.O.T. wants to create an interstate-style highway, including an overpass at C-57/Cedar Wapsi Road. The designs suggest other rural road access points would be closed off -- including Gresham Road, the location of a nearly century-old family road stand.

If you've traveled on Highway 218, chances are you've seen Rogers Market...and maybe even pulled over for your dinner ingredients.

"People from out of state or out of the area, they stop and they know whenever they're coming down to our area, they remember us. They plan on stopping," said co-owner Deb Christopher.

This weekend, the family is closing up the stand for the year. But as they head into the off season, there's a new concern hanging over their heads.

"This is a family farm that we've had for four generations now. It's just very upsetting that I've spent my whole life working on this farm to have it taken away from us," Christopher said.

Christopher is referring to the plans for Highway 218 and C-57. She saw the plans for the first time this week at a public meeting, and learned the future of Rogers Market is in peril.

"We're going to have to close it because of lack of traffic," she told KWWL>

Christopher shared her concerns with the D.O.T. representatives at the meeting. Officials are quick to point out -- these are only preliminary plans. The reason for the public meeting Tuesday was to hear from folks like Christopher.

"For people to take a look at this, get their input, we've got different studies we need to do yet. We'll take all that from the studies, we'll take the input, and we'll narrow it down and go from there," said spokesperson Pete Hjelmstad.

The D.O.T has yet to secure funding for construction the C-57/Highway 218 crossing, which means any impact on Rogers Market is at least five years out. But that's little consolation for a family on the verge of losing their livelihood.

"We love what we do. We don't make a lot of money, we do it out of love," said Christopher.

The owners of Rogers Market do support creating an overpass for C-57 and Highway 218. They agree, something needs to be done to improve safety at that intersection. But they don't think it's necessary to limit access for some of the gravel roads - like Gresham Road.

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