- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2016

MAQUOKETA, Iowa (AP) - An extensive road project in downtown Maquoketa is impacting local commerce and travel, but city officials note the work is much needed.

Work started earlier this month and is focused in the area of the intersection of Main and Platt streets, as well as the surrounding blocks between Quarry Street to the north and Maple Street to the south, and Second Street to the west and Olive Street to the east, the Telegraph-Herald (https://bit.ly/1TY6ECB ) reported.

The $3.7 million reconstruction project includes new water and sewer mains, storm sewers and concrete paving. It also will feature new streetscape amenities, such as benches, planters, vintage brickwork and streetlights.

Frank Ellenz, director of the Maquoketa Public Works Department, said the work had to be done.

“All the underground pipes were 80 to 90 years old, and the street surface was starting to fail,” he said. “We’ve had multiple water main breaks, and it was just time to do something.”

The city began the project May 3, working in conjunction with general contractor KE Flatwork, of Eldridge; subcontractor KMA Trucking and Excavating, of Princeton; and engineers at IIW, P.C., of Dubuque. Construction is expected to be completed by Dec. 1.

“The concrete has to be poured long before that due to freezing temperatures, so hopefully by November most things will be done other than cleanup,” Ellenz said. “We decided to do the whole project all at once to get it done and over with in one construction project.”

Many residents acknowledge the short-term impacts for a longer-term gain.

“Oh, I just think it’s absolutely wonderful,” said Janet Trekell earlier this week as she checked out the ongoing work. “They’ve done a marvelous, marvelous job.”

She later added, “Maquoketa has needed this for a long, long time.”

As roadwork closed off downtown Maquoketa’s busiest intersection to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic, residents said the surrounding streets are more congested.

“The construction is making the side streets terrible,” said Deb Brunson.

Brunson lives in the heart of downtown, less than a five-minute walk to the construction site. She said she thinks the construction has impacted downtown commerce.

“Lots of businesses with back doors have been very welcoming and have let customers use their shops to get to others, but we don’t want to lose anything we have right now,” she said.

Many business owners are being proactive in dealing with the disruption.

“So far, it hasn’t affected us too much. The roadwork is right at our corner . but it also hasn’t been too awfully bad,” said Gail Stoddard, owner of The Peddler’s Market. “We’ve got some ideas in place to help with that once it gets here all the way. I’m sure business will slow down, but we’re hoping to offer some specials once that happens, and we have a back door to help with traffic. I anticipate that will affect it a little bit.”

The business, located at 201 S. Main St., is directly in the center of the Main Street construction.

“From what I’m hearing from the businesses down the road that have really been affected, they’re all getting by well, business is good and the city is really helpful,” Stoddard said.

Stoddard said business owners have been kept in the loop about construction plans.

“The Chamber (of Commerce) has an update meeting every week, and every affected business gets updates daily in our email inbox on their construction plans,” she said. “They detail for us what’s going on, and they’re great with that. The chamber members and the heads of the (Maquoketa Betterment Corp.) have also been in to talk with us personally, and when we go to chamber meetings, the city planner is there to talk about things.”

Brunson agreed, saying the Maquoketa community has come together in the wake of this project.

“The city is trying to do everything they can to get and keep people shopping downtown,” she said.

The next roadwork update meeting will be held at 8 a.m. Thursday, June 2, at Maquoketa City Hall.

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com


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