A six-block-long section of West Main Street will be closed to through traffic for two business weeks later this month.
The section, spanning Van Buren Street to Page Street, is scheduled to close Monday, Aug. 19, through Friday, Aug. 30. It is part of a planned sanitary sewer construction replacement on Monroe Street and also connected to more extensive work on U.S. Hwy. 51 – a portion of which is also Main Street – next year.
The Common Council approved the project in November, but it wasn’t until this spring that engineering consultant Strand determined the road closure was unavoidable, public works director Brett Hebert told the Hub. He said the 12-day closure is far shorter than most windows for a project of this scope and that it is “far less intrusive” than the alternative, which would have been one lane at a time for a month.
During the closure, signs will be posted marked “Local traffic only,” and Hebert clarified Tuesday only Main Street residents or those traveling to businesses on those blocks will be allowed access. Traffic will not be able to cross the road going north or south.
Businesses on that road include Kwik Trip, Home Savings Bank, Stoughton Tire and Auto, Viking Motorcars, El Rio Grande restaurant, accounting and insurance firms, a gas station and the Stoughton Sweet Shoppe, as well as Christ the King church.
They should also be accessible through side streets, Hebert said, adding that construction crew representatives on site will be able to help direct people as needed.
He told the Hub he had not been in direct contact with the businesses along that route, but Strand has been working with Kwik Trip on the Monroe Street project since the spring and Hebert and Strand site representative Kyle Smith walked door to door to talk to each of the businesses Tuesday afternoon. Based on those discussions, they might make some adjustments for how the closure is presented, including the possibility of signage.
For everyone else, including businesses downtown that might be affected by the restricted traffic, Hebert announced the closing Monday afternoon with a media release. He said there had been no discussion in the spring of alerting people before the exact date of the closure was determined.
He also pointed out Monday that he had forwarded the release to the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce.
“We figured that would be the easiest way to disseminate the information because they have an email list they use,” he said. “It essentially gives them (businesses) a couple weeks to prepare.”
Chamber executive director Laura Trotter said Tuesday the chamber has been making plans to help support local businesses during the expected 2020 closures but was unaware of the upcoming shutdown and was not asked to let its membership know.
The city also posted the closure on its Facebook page, along with the official detour, which takes drivers a half-mile south to Van Buren Street, east on Milwaukee Street, north on Fourth Street, east on South Street, south on Dunkirk Avenue and north on Veterans Road (County Hwy. N).
Hebert pointed out that such a convoluted route is designed for truck traffic and also for people traveling through the city, rather than residents. He told the Hub he expected local traffic would find more convenient ways around.
The closure hasn’t been the topic of any agenda items this year for either the Public Works committee or the Common Council. Mayor Tim Swadley told the Hub part of the reason was because the exact date of the closure – part of a larger project on Monroe Street running from May through October – was undetermined.
“There hasn’t been a lot of communication about it,” he said. “This is kind of the beginning of that process to remind people that this project is going on and that this road will be closed.”
Hebert told the Hub the project includes some underground infrastructure work in preparation for a larger project the DOT plans next year to rebuild U.S. 51 from Page Street west to Hoel Avenue. Swadley said there’s been more concern in the city about next year’s interruptions.
“Next year is going to be a major deal, where it’s going to be down one lane both ways,” Swadley said. “The chamber is going to have an effort to work with local businesses. That one is going to be more of a deal.”