MILTON, Wis. - Milton area businesses say they have been struggling to attract customers after the construction of the new bypass that opened last fall. They're hoping new signs designating Business 26 will help make up for the revenue that was lost.
"That's been the most frustrating thing; that we just didn't realize you could just wipe out an entire highway," said owner of Oak Ridge Golf Course, Andrea Wielane.
Wielane has spent her whole life on her family's golf course and said the family-owned business that started in the 1970s is now losing revenue because of the Highway 26 bypass.
"I know it's a destination stop. People will come to the golf course. But we still had a lot of customers that would be driving by and would come over, and maybe stop and have a beer or check out the golf course and go play 9 holes, so we definitely didn't see any of that type of customer anymore." Wielane said.
Until recently, Milton was the only city along the new bypass route without a Business 26 sign to help guide drivers to the area. Milton community leaders hope the new signs will catch more people's attention.
"There was unnecessarily access to Milton being cut off. It was very difficult for people who were trying to get to the city, to get to the city. With the addition to the Business 26 signage at least now there are signs directing you to where you are trying to go," Milton Mayor Bret Frazier said.
Frazier said the bypass was never something that the area wanted. Now that it's here, he said the city has one of two options.
"Bypasses force one of two things; either you stay the same and you die or you adapt and you thrive," Frazier said.
Meanwhile, Wielane said she is now looking for other ways to attract more customers. Wielane has plans to partner with Northleaf Winery to offer bundle packages for customers who stay at the winery. Both businesses hope that they can increase their revenue by working together.
"You have to do something. You got to figure out some way to bring people here so working together is always a good thing," said Wielane.
Frazier said while sign changes and a business road would be immediate fixes to the problem, he would also like to see routine engineering reviews to ensure the roads are serving the public in the best way possible.
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