JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — It’s been under construction for five months now, but the project on a busy road in Jackson is not even close to being done.
The Michigan Department of Transportation says the project is moving along and they’re making progress.
Driving around West Michigan Avenue in Jackson, it’s clear to see that the construction has been difficult for crews and businesses.
The menu at Caffe Lilla reflects the rocky road they’ve been on since April.
“We didn’t expect it to be so brutal,” said Caffe Lilla owner Heidi Mills.
The restaurant is right in the middle of a massive construction project as MDOT reconstructs West Michigan Avenue from Brown Street to downtown Jackson.
“Everything has been going pretty well. Overall, we’re mostly on schedule. We’re about 50 percent paved,” said MDOT Construction Engineer Samuel Sorensen.
Sorensen says the project is taking so long because crews are totally reconstructing the road.
That means new water mains, sewers, and removing deep infrastructure more than 100 years old.
“A lot of stuff that until you open it up, you don’t know what you’re going to find,” Sorensen said.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Sorensen says things will start moving faster next week when traffic moves to new pavement on the north side of the road.
“We’re projecting to have traffic open on Michigan probably in late November,” Sorensen said.
It can’t come soon enough for businesses, especially Caffe Lilla.
“We’ve lost about 50 percent of our business. And it’s really just because we can’t get our downtown traffic here,” Mills said.
Down the street, the owner of Super Liquor says sales are down 40 percent, and he hopes holiday cheer can make up for the loss.
“December is a big month for all of the beverages, you know. Everyone needs a drink around the holiday. Hopefully they’ll be done,” said Andy Abro, owner of Super Liquor.
M-DOT remains focused on the road ahead and thanks people for their patience.
“We’re doing everything we can to get the project done as efficiently as possible. But also as safely as possible,” Sorensen said.
Mills says she understand that the road needed repairing and the loss of business is an unfortunate result.
“I understand it. We try to stay on the positive side, and not let it get us down too much,” Mills said.
Even when the complete project is done, crews will be back on Michigan Avenue next spring to put the finishing touches on the roadway.