Business owners lobby to keep Verona Road project on schedule

Lawmakers have not agreed on projects, funding
Business owners lobby to keep Verona Road project on schedule

Businesses along Verona Road are lobbying lawmakers to keep a longtime road construction project on-time.

Representatives from the Verona Road Business Coalition joined road builders and other local officials meeting with lawmakers at the Capitol Wednesday about the issue.

Construction on Verona Road began in 2015 and businesses as well as local officials are asking the state to stick to the current timeline on the project, which is set to finish in 2020. Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal would keep the project on-time, but lawmakers have gone back the drawing board on that issue and the future of the project is unclear.

Deirdre Garton co-owns Quivey’s Grove, which is set along the south end of the project. She was at the Capitol Wednesday to talk to lawmakers, as well as hand-deliver letters to the offices of the Governor and Joint Finance Committee leaders asking for the project not to be delayed.

“You can plan for a year, maybe two years of reductions, but to ask businesses to absorb five or god-forbid seven years of construction, that’s asking too much,” Garton said.

The letter from the mayors called a delay of that kind “untenable” for the businesses.

Lawmakers at the Capitol seem to agree that delays on major projects was a problem, but they can’t yet agree on a solution.

Garton says if there isn’t certainty, businesses may move off the highway, although she doesn’t have that option.

“We are an historic building,” Garton said. “You can’t move our building anywhere, so it’s very important to us that there be some finality to the road construction.”

It was not only Verona Road that was raising concerns. Local officials also came to lobby for finishing work on the I-94 east-west corridor in Milwaukee, and north-south region near Racine.