Roundabout intersection closes for construction
With a plan for accelerating the roundabout construction project in place last week, the city of Quincy expected to close the intersection of State Route 28 and 13th Avenue SW on Monday, July 8, and keep it closed until July 19.
After the intersection reopens, work will continue. The project is expected to be substantially complete by the end of the month.
The city’s move pleased Mike McKee, owner of Mike’s Barbecue and Smoked Meats, one of the businesses near the intersection that has been affected by the roundabout project.
“It has had a disastrous effect on our business here,” McKee said last week.
The intersection has been open in three directions during construction, but vehicles get backed up as they slow down and sometimes wait for a left-turner. The city’s plan was to keep the intersection open during the project, allowing vehicles to access 13th, where there are numerous businesses, two schools and a large city park.
Some motorists have been avoiding the intersection, and signage on highways 28 and 281 directs traffic to avoid the intersection and use White Trail Road instead, bypassing Quincy.
McKee said the project has substantially reduced his customer volumes.t
“It has devastated our lunch crowd, because no one on a 30-minute lunch break is going to wait 15 minutes at the intersection,” he said. “Dinner traffic depends and whether people want to brave that intersection.”
McKee said he has heard that other businesses in the shopping area, at the southeast corner of the intersection, have laid off employees because of the slowdown. He has had to cut back hours for his employees, he said, and he has not filled two positions that came open.
“It has been a tough few months,” he said. “These are my busiest months of the year – or should be, and they are not.”
The project was also lengthened after unidentified utility infrastructure in the ground was found at the site, according to the city of Quincy.
In response, McKee started and circulated a petition supporting closure of the intersection in order to speed up the work. Pat Haley, Quincy’s incoming city administrator, said all the businesses in the area signed the petition.
The option of closing the intersection and speeding up construction was discussed at length at the June 18 meeting of the Quincy City Council. McKee attended and spoke in favor of it. Highlighting how much better for his business it would be to close the intersection for about two weeks, he told the council that he might opt to simply close his business during that time.
But, last week he said he hoped to keep the business open, at least partly because there was still some question whether there will be alley access to 13th, which would allow customers to reach his business.
“We will just have to see if there is business to stay open,” he said.
Closure will be an inconvenience for many, but at least it will happen after the regular school year, Haley said.
“The traffic at the intersection has been significantly reduced” since school was out, he said.
The contractor on the project, Tommer Construction, worked out the plan with the city, including the ability to pay overtime for workers to work five 10-hour days or even six 10-hour days to speed up the project.
Haley said the city will pay a little in overtime, but the closure gives the contractor uninterrupted access to the site.
Another hurdle that came up in the June 18 City Council meeting was the need for the state Department of Transportation to review the changed plan. Haley said DOT did its part on a fast track because the project had been started.
The idea of alley access was also discussed at the City Council meeting, and last week Haley said the decision was not to allow it during the intersection closure.
Drivers should not try to sneak through the intersection or make their own path around it. Quincy police will cite violators, Haley said.
Road 9 NW and Road 11 NW are east-west routes around the intersection, and vehicles can still get to 13th Avenue SW via Road 9 NW.
By Dave Burgess, firstname.lastname@example.org