As Verona Road construction nears completion, Fitchburg roundabout opening provides relief

Businesses celebrate ‘open roads ahead'

As drivers look forward to construction on Verona Road completing in November, a nearby roundabout is slated to open Wednesday.

“The construction has been horrible,” said Kristi Cottrell, a manager at Bavaria Sausage, where roundabout construction is right outside the parking lot at Nesbitt and Fitchrona Roads. Customers can only access the business from one direction.

“We do have a lot of customers, regulars that we’re not seeing because they don’t want to take extra time to go around,” Cottrell said.

Just down Nesbitt Road, Monkey Shines is taking a hit, too. Cory McMahan’s restaurant is between Fitchburg’s roundabout construction and the larger Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Verona Road project.

“We’re right in there,” McMahan said. “It’s affecting us, there’s no doubt,” McMahan said. “I’ve talked to some other business in the area, they’re saying the same thing, maybe down somewhere between 25 to 40 percent.”

“(There’s been) certainly a lot of patience and perseverance,” said Steve Theisen, WisDOT communications manager.

Theisen said come November, that patience and perseverance will pay off with a completed Verona Road, with three lanes each way from Raymond Road to Highway PD. It comes after the completion of three bridges this year.

The project is on schedule and under-budget, according to Theisen.

“There can be some headaches and frustration with construction, but to know the light is at the end of the tunnel here,” he said. “We’re getting to November and having that completion.”

But ahead of that, Fitcburg’s roundabout at Nesbitt and Fitchrona roads is slated to open Wednesday.

“That’ll be a great connection certainly with residents of Verona connecting up to Fitchburg, or vice versa,” Theisen said.

Area business owners hope that will turn things around. At very least, it’s a sign of progress.

“We’re very excited,” Cotrell said. “We’re excited to have it open. We’re excited to have customers back. I know just about everybody will be excited to have it open.”

“It’s going to be nice when it’s all over,” McMahan said. “I think it’s going to be great access for all businesses.”

“I am very excited the roundabout is almost open,” Fitchburg Aaron Richardson said in a statement. “It has been very inconvenient for people traveling through the area but I think they will find the improvements worth it. There will not be the long backups you have seen in the past at this intersection.”

Businesses are hosting an “Open Roads Ahead” celebration Wednesday starting at 5 p.m. to celebrate the roundabout’s opening and approaching Verona Road completion.

Construction on the Verona Road corridor has been going since 2013. Theisen said the final portion of the overall project, which tackles Highway PD, will be complete in the fall of 2020.

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