Businesses deal with Highway 26 construction

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012
— When it comes to road construction, Joe Fassl gets it.

It’s time-consuming and annoying for drivers, for sure. It’s also frustrating for business owners and the customers trying to patronize them.

Fassl owns Fassl’s Fourmost Kitchens and Baths on Highway 26 between Janesville and Milton.

While Fassl’s business address is technically on Highway 26, his customers need to enter his parking lot from McCormick Drive, a short street that connects Highway 26 and County Y.

Right now, all three are a mess.

“I think most people understand that it’s road construction, and it takes time,” Fassl said. “For me, the most frustrating thing is that they have all three torn up at same time.”

Concrete barriers prevent northbound motorists on Highway 26 from turning left onto McCormick Drive. Southbound travelers, however, can make a right onto McCormick.

Fassl and other business owners that rely on McCormick have posted signs to the south that detour northbound vehicles onto County Y and then McCormick, essentially a back-door entrance.

Adding frustration for the businesses is the condition of McCormick, which is being reconstructed near Highway 26.

“McCormick is completely destroyed,” Fassl said. “It’s not so bad for people in trucks, but it’s not good for small cars.”

As part of the Highway 26 expansion and bypass project, the state Department of Transportation is redoing McCormick and its intersections with Highway 26 and County Y.

The project is on track, and the department hopes to finish that section of Highway 26 and the McCormick Drive work by August, said Wayne Chase, the department’s manager on the project.

“It’s a little different because we have the work on McCormick and 26 going on at the same time, and we have to shift some traffic around,” he said. “But there will be access to McCormick at all times.”

Fassl said that while the construction project is frustrating now, it would be a blessing when it’s finished. That’s because Highway 26 and McCormick will become a stoplight-controlled intersection.

“I know we’re missing people now because I’ve gotten calls from people asking how to get here,” he said. “Sometimes they get sidetracked and frustrated and don’t come.

“But the stop light will help me and my business. People will be stopped and see me. In the long term, it will be good, but right now it really stinks.”

Fassl said he’s somewhat fortunate that he’s a big-ticket business.

That’s not necessarily the case next door at Oak Village, a landscape and garden display business owned by Tim Neuberger.

“I don’t have the same daily traffic that Tim does, but at some point people want to come in here and see the products and not just look at catalogs,” Fassl said.

Neuberger couldn’t be reached for comment.

“It will be good when it’s done,” Fassl said. “But until it’s done, or at least until we know a date when it will be done, it’s frustrating.”

The $470 million Highway 26 project stretches from Janesville to Watertown.

It’s designed to increase capacity, improve safety and maximize economic development potential.

Through 2014, a string of reroutes, closures and construction obstacles linked to four segments of Rock County’s Highway 26 corridor will become part of life for anyone using that stretch.

Last updated: 8:48 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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