Sewer Maintenance Disrupts Vliet Street Business

 In Feature

If running a small business isn’t hard enough, road construction that blocks parking and access to your restaurant or shop is making the winter of 2015 difficult for some Vliet Street business.

Since August, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) has been repairing the metropolitan interceptor sewer route, which had severely deteriorated. In addition to construction of about 1,200 feet of sewer, the project includes rehabilitation or modification of seven manholes and construction of four new manholes.

MMSD senior project manager Jennifer Wright says the $2.7 million construction was unavoidable, and the project’s goal is to achieve an additional 50 years in service life.  The biggest challenges so far have been “hitting unexpected pockets of rock while micro-tunneling as well as the exceptionally cold temps.”

According to Wright, while some of the work is completed, the street still will need to be resurfaced, which is anticipated to be completed by early April – a month earlier than the contractual date.

Huge Impact

That’s little consolation to the businesses that have had to face massive construction equipment, loss of parking, traffic down to two lanes, and detour of a major bus route.

“There has been a huge, huge impact. It has deterred a lot of people, especially with our lunch business,” says Christian Schroeder, executive chef at Nourri on 59th & Vliet. The restaurant opened to critical raves – just about the same time the street construction started.

“It certainly has affected in-store sales. We are grateful to have offsite book fairs and other events that help us keep going, but it’s had a significant effect on people who walk in the neighborhood,” says Maryebeth Dugan at Rainbow Booksellers on 57th & Vliet.

A public meeting with business owners was held last summer, and Schroeder said the project was delayed to let them squeeze the last profits out of summer. The contractor continues to provide updates to Alderman Murphy, and business owners say workers are polite and helpful.

“But when people see the cones, porta-potties and construction, they’re much less likely to stop,” Schroeder says.  He is confident business will come back, but the financial situation has been difficult to manage.

Questions about the project should be directed to Richard Schluge, 414-225-2127.

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