Muskego — It has been a long nearly four years for businesses and for residents.
Ten homes and nine businesses stood in the way of the Janesville Road widening. The houses started coming down in 2009. The underground work involving utilities such as electrical lines started the eastern-most section that was phase one in 2011. While phase one construction took place in 2012, utility work started for phase two. Last year, phase two construction started with the finishing touches being applied this year and still finishing up this week.
Of the nine businesses that were demolished, three rebuilt on Janesville Road. One was Young's Auto Body that built further back from the road. another was Muskego Tire and Auto that rebuilt along Janesville and the third was the Dan Par BP Gas that was transformed into an auto repair business rebuilt west of the project, said Karen Braun, senior civic engineer with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and who handled relocations and acquisitions for the road project.
The owners of Irv's Sports Shack that offered bait and fishing equipment retired to Florida, she said, while the owners of Spitfires bought a tavern at 50th and State Street in Milwaukee. They call it Spitfires on State and are doing very well serving the same award-winning wings they did in Muskego.
Twin Floral moved to New Berlin where it also is doing well, Braun said. DJ's Pub & Grill has twice received approval to rebuild a much larger establishment but financing had still not been lined up as of January.
The owner of the Shell gas station that also was demolished is in litigation with the state, but the property where the station stood is ready for him to develop, Braun said. Finally, an insurance business also had to leave.
Don Young, who started Young's Auto Body on Janesville more than 30 years ago, said the road project actually was a boon to his business. It helped him expand. His business was cramped in its original 1,200-square-foot building.
He now operates out of a nearly 5,000-square-foot facility at S76 W17833 Janesville Road, and is doing great, he said.
"It worked out beautifully," Young said. "It was a big step to take, but I'm glad I did it."
Over at Johnny's Petroleum, S76 W17871 Janesville Road, co-owner Jack Strasser was originally against the widening because he feared that his driveway would become too narrow for many of his big-rig customers.
"I wasn't real happy," Strasser said. "We do have some big rigs pull in and out of here."
But Braun and others from the DOT worked with him on tweaking the plans and now he's happy.
"The bottom line is it's as nice if not better than we had before," Strasser said. "Business should get back to normal, and maybe better."
The general reaction of the business community is one of relief and happiness that the project is finally coming to a close, said Deborah Skurulsky, executive director of the Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce.
"Everybody's thrilled," she said. "And that's amazing because when it was being planned there was concern for how it would affect business and low it would look. But everybody I've spoken with is happy with how it turned out."
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