Businesses brace for interstate, bridge construction in Rock County

Businesses brace for interstate, bridge construction in Rock County

Construction started Monday on the Interstate 39/90 and WIS 59 interchange, as well as the Rock River bridges, near Edgerton and Newville in Rock County.

“There’s nervousness. We are concerned with any type of construction project with how might customers feel about diverging traffic,” Scott Mallon, owner of the Culver’s in Edgerton, said.

It’s a sense of the unknown of what the orange cones will bring that makes business owners like Mallon unsure of what to expect.

“If people can get used to the construction, there should be access to our business in the Edgerton, Newville area all summer so we are not overly concerned about access,” Mallon said.

For Mallon, it’s roadwork that he has been anticipating.

Most lane closures will happen during night construction, which Mallon hopes won’t negatively affect his business.

“We are excited for this to get started. We wanted it to start. We are looking forward to improvement and looking forward to the future more than what the immediate impact of the construction is going to be,” he said.

Restaurants like Blue Gilly’s Pancake Pier plans to place extra signage to attract customers and direct them through the construction.

“That’s part of things getting better in Newville. We will just grin and bear it and deal with it,” Dan Natter, owner of Blue Gilly’s, said.

The interchange will be reconstructed and include three roundabouts.

Crews will also begin construction of the new piers for the interstate bridges over the Rock River. The new Highway 59 bridge over I-39/90 will be constructed south of the existing structure.

Department of Transportation officials said the changes will improve safety and traffic in the area. It’s all part of the bigger project to widen the interstate from the Illinois state line to the Highway 12/18 interchange.

“Coming in at top speeds, semis and then they have low shift and in the winter with the snow plows. Now, we are going toward conventional diamonds where you are only going up or down. It allows better acceleration and deceleration,” Emmanuel Yartey, construction project manager for the DOT, said.

Businesses will remain open and boaters will be able to continue to use the Rock River during construction. All lane restrictions and construction work is weather dependent and subject to change. The Highway 59 interchange is expected to be completed by November.

Restaurants who rely on the interstate for more than 50 percent of their business and even more in the summer are hoping the cones will direct customers to their doors and not away.

“That’s our busy time so we will just have to wait and see,” Natter said.

The interstate widening and Rock River bridge replacements are expected to be completed in fall of 2018. The projects combined cost $48.4 million.