Joe Hines, owner of Millz Pizza in Davenport, jokes about throwing a construction party now that road lanes have been opened at Kimberly Road and Division Street. But the delays have been no laughing matter for local businesses.
Hines and fellow business owners near the intersection improvement project have felt the pain to their bottom line since the project began in March and then was delayed for several months.
"For a new business, this has just been terrible," Hines said. "Speaking to the other four or five businesses — Walgreens, the Kwik Shop, CVS, the shop across from us — business has been down an average of 50 percent."
The Kimberly and Division project began on March 13 and was targeted for completion by the end of July according to the construction announcement and updates on the city of Davenport website.
Shortly thereafter, the delays began.
Stage 2 of the project was anticipated to be completed by the end of May, but was pushed back multiple times because of inclement weather, underground utility work, unsuitable soils and the installation of a gas main.
For weeks, businesses and motorists saw no work being done and, to make matters worse, Hines said, communication was lacking.
"Nobody kept us in the loop," he said. "We'd talk to the construction workers who couldn't say much other than they were just showing up to work."
For the customers who managed to come in or who have returned, the delays were a topic of conversation.
"Almost everyone that came in said it's terrible to get in here," Hines said. "We've had people stay away just to avoid the construction."
Stage 3, which included widening northbound Division Street to accommodate a dedicated right hand turn lane onto eastbound Kimberly Road, did not begin until early September.
Hines said he felt especially bad for Shop-N-Save at the southwest corner of the intersection because at times it was nearly impossible to access the business.
Nabin Thapa, owner of Shop-N-Save, said construction workers and utility companies were just passing the blame.
"I lost a lot of business, more than 50 percent," Thapa said. "The median isn't good for the four or five businesses because you can't turn in. It took so long that I almost had to close the business."
While managers at Walgreens, CVS and Kwik Shop referred questions to their corporate offices, the topic of construction elicited groans and exasperated looks at the mere mentioning of the project.
The frustration with the delays was shared by some members of the City Council, like 7th Ward Alderman Mike Matson, who pushed for greater communication with utility companies to avoid future delays.
"It's continuing to be a huge frustration," Matson said during the Oct. 3 management update meeting. "Now, we're going to November. This was supposed to be done in summer."
The widening portion of the project was completed last week and the re-opening of lanes on Kimberly and Division did not go unnoticed by Hines, who said he's seen an increase in business after a few days.
The fourth and final stage of project includes putting in traffic signals, fixing sidewalks, grading and sodding, all of which may require intermittent single lane closures.
Public Works Director Nicole Gleason said the work is expected to be completed by Nov. 18, weather dependent, although the sidewalk work could be delayed by another project.
"We have temporary signal poles up now that will be holding up Mediacom service until Mediacom has completed their new underground installation," Gleason said. "This is a project that is not managed by the city and we do not know a final completion date."
Tom Larsen, senior vice president of government and public relations for Mediacom, said the underground cabling work is expected to be complete by Nov. 21.