Stores, drivers cope with paving on busy road

City engineer Steven Bergstresser said about 35,000 vehicles a day travel Wilmington Pike between Dorothy Lane and the split with Smithville Road.

When classes began last week at Beavertown Elementary, which is in the work zone, the city boosted the number of adult crossing guards and posted a police officer during dropoff and pickup to safeguard students.

Although many drivers are avoiding the area if they can, traffic during business hours is often bumper to bumper in both of the single narrow lanes that remain open as first one half of the road is worked on, to be followed by the other.

Two dozen businesses, including several restaurants, are located in the congested area, along with a veterinarian’s office and the Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals.

Jordan Spoerl, assistant manager of the Domino Pizza store in the area, said sales are steady, “but pretty much every customer who comes in talks about it. It will be a big improvement when it’s done.”

Directly across Wilmington and adjacent to a bridge Montgomery County is replacing as part of the project, manager Irene Heikes said business has dried up at the Imperial 300 car wash. Her father-in-law founded the company in 1965. Her husband now runs it.

“Our business is down 75 percent. People aren’t coming in for car washes because of the traffic and the dust they have to drive through afterwards. I hope we survive this,” she said.

Brittany Grotha-Daugherty, assistant manager at a Skyline restaurant located between Beavertown School and the Wilmington Plaza shopping center, said “there are some times of day when we probably have fewer customers than before, but business is pretty steady. People want their chili.”

There’s more dust about a mile to the north in the City of Dayton, where Patterson Road between Wilmington and Smithville is closed for a separate project.

Bergstresser said the Wilmington project may seem to be an extension of the much larger and longer-lasting Dorothy Lane re-construction that was completed last year. “But it’s totally separate.”

He said the job is right on schedule.

Concrete has been poured to complete the eastern half of the bridge, which is the most complex piece of the project.

“After that cures for two to three weeks, we’ll be able to flip traffic over to the east side of the road, closing the west side. We hope to have most of the reconstruction done by Thanksgiving, at which point we’ll have to stop paving work due to cold weather. We’ll finish up with final paving work next spring.”

The city had to buy more than 25 narrow pieces of property to allow for making the road uniform and to install sidewalks. Bergstresser said the majority of funding came from federal and state grants.

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