The road construction along Pontiac Trail and Maple Road in Walled Lake is continuing at a steady pace, but merchants directly impacted by the road improvement project are still experiencing a drop in business and are crossing their fingers the project wraps up sooner than expected.
“Some businesses are seeing their sales go down and want it done,” said Walled Lake Deputy Treasurer Jennifer Stuart. “They are hoping it’s done sooner than later, but everyone has to bear with it until it’s completed.”
The project, which commenced in mid-July, involves a complete reconstruction, where the existing concrete is removed and new concrete is laid along Pontiac Trail from South Commerce Road to just south of East West Maple Road. In addition, an another 1,000 foot section of Maple east of Pontiac Trail is being replaced.
The project calls for curb and gutter replacement as well as a new traffic signal configuration installed at the Maple and Pontiac Trail intersection. The nearby railroad crossing has been removed.
Every business in the project area is open during construction. Efforts have been made by the city and the Walled Lake Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to mitigate the detriment to area businesses. The city has erected signage stating that businesses are open during construction. DDA representatives also have visited individual businesses.
Jennifer Kaljevic, owner of Jenny’s Restaurant on East West Maple, recently contacted the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) to vent her frustration. Her sales have dropped by 20 to 30 percent.
“I’m very frustrated,” she said. “I don’t see them (RCOC) working out there and customers are having a hard time getting here.”
According to RCOC Spokesperson Craig Bryson, crews poured concrete last weekend and are waiting for it to cure.
“First off it’s not our crews out there — we hire someone to do it,” he said. “They poured concrete and it has to cure at least seven days. There’s not much you can do around that until it cures.”
Kaljevic added that the signage posted has been confusing some patrons.
“The two signs, one from the city and one from the RCOC, were confusing people so now, thanks to the city, the signs have been moved further down so it’s clearer,” she said. “I have a lot of loyal clientele who are figuring out how to get here by cutting through subdivisions or side streets, but the general public has been confused.”
Likewise, Casey Ambrose, owner of Casey’s of Walled Lake located on East West Maple Road, has also realized a loss in sales.
“From a business standpoint we’re down anywhere from 25 to 50 percent during construction, and that’s dependent on what they’re working on, when, and to what extent, but we’ll get through it,” he said.
Issues with businesses are being handled on a case-by-case basis.
“We had one complaint by Shuman (Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram) in respect to access, but we worked with the contractor to handle that, and are handling others as they arise,” said Walled Lake Police Chief Paul Shakinas.
The project appears to be moving along smoothly thus far.
“According to RCOC Job Inspector Mike Neering, they are still shooting for an earlier completion date,” Shakinas said. “Right now they are ahead of schedule.”
The project is scheduled to be finished by Nov. 15.
Bryson said the RCOC is hoping for an earlier reopening date for the intersection, but there are still several items left to complete.
“There is still a lot that must fall into place like curbs, decorative concrete, sidewalks and the traffic signal,” Bryson said.
Shakinas said work crews are now filling in driveways and unpaved portions before they begin curb and gutter work.