Oconomowoc businesses look for solutions to lagging sales in construction zone

By Ryan Billingham - Freeman Staff

July 2, 2015

OCONOMOWOC — According to several Oconomowoc businesses in the Highway 67 corridor, the reconstruction of the highway is having a negative impact on sales and customer volume.

A meeting organized by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the city of Oconomowoc and the Oconomowoc Chamber of Commerce convened June 26 to discuss possible solutions to the problem.

Business owners complained of a drop in sales, particularly during lunch hours. Tari Farrell of Quiznos Subs, 1400C Summit Ave., said she has been going so far as telling construction workers she will deliver to their work trucks if they need it.

Some of the proposed solutions include punch cards for customer loyalty, increasing social media presence, increasing communication between businesses and collaborative signage.

Chamber of Commerce Director Katie Miller said teamwork and creative ideas are important to keep customers aware of changes and to lure them to Highway 67 businesses despite the construction.

Before being steered into a discussion about marketing solutions, business owners complained about the lack of signage, and asked WisDOT representatives to help them come up with solutions so that proper directional signs can be placed where drivers can see them.

Economic Development Director Bob Duffy said there are challenges in placing signs that might distract drivers, interrupt construction or be a safety risk.

“The city does allow temporary signage,” Duffy said. “The situation you run into as it relates to signage is that is our ordinance. The Department of Transportation also has policies related to that.”

Lisa Baudoin, co-owner of Books & Company, 1039 Summit Ave in the Whitman Park Shopping Center, asked that WisDOT be lenient and help search for solutions like an easement to get signs up as soon as possible.

Cynthia De Vor, a consultant on the project, said one thing is certain: There will be an attractive new road with better access when the project is completed.

A long way to go

The project is slated to take two years. It will include improved interstate exit ramps, new pavement and better pedestrian and bicycle access. It will cost about $34 million.

Project managers said the traffic flow has to adjust according to the work and tweaks are constantly being made to try to mitigate long waits or confusing turns.

For information on the project and to sign up for updates visit http://projects.511wi.gov/wis67/schedule, or call the DOT at 262-548-8759.