SIOUX CITY | Pam Wittern lives about four blocks from Hamilton Boulevard. She shops on the street and eats at restaurants there.
So she knows all too well about the hazards of navigating the mess of orange barrels, rocky pavement and head-on cars that have filled the area for months.
"The way they have the road blocked off, sometimes people don't know which way to go,” she said recently, while shopping at Dollar Tree, 1452 Hamilton Blvd. “And then they’re driving the wrong way down the street.”
The roadwork, part of the $5 million Wesley Parkway extension project, has tied up traffic and cut into profits at area businesses. Parts of the construction zone seem like an obstacle course.
But the end may finally be in sight: Crews on Wednesday entered the final phase of roadwork, putting the project on track to open by Sept. 15.
The end can’t come soon enough for business owners and motorists.
"Normally, people come here on their way home from work,” said Jason Cline, who runs the Domino's Pizza at 1422 Hamilton Blvd., ground zero of the road project. “Now, people go around and go somewhere else."
Seven blocks of the busy artery has been a jumble of equipment and lane shifts since May. The street is being reconfigured to tie into the Wesley Parkway connector, a four-lane roadway built last year from Hamilton to just west of downtown.
The parkway is meant to act as a bypass to downtown and the Veterans Memorial Bridge into South Sioux City. New water and sewer lines also have been installed.
The city Engineering Department held a public meeting about whether to close Hamilton altogether during the last part of construction and reroute traffic or to close a lane in each direction. About 20,000 vehicles use the street a day.
They opted for the second option, saying the construction period would be shorter and businesses could stay open. Two northbound lanes have been closed since May, with oncoming traffic merged into the southern part of the road.
Steve Hein, who manages Braunger's Retail Market at 1436 Hamilton Blvd., said the construction has made him thankful for the customers who put up with all the roadwork.
"We have a lot of regular customers and they find a way to get here," he said. "We really appreciate the customers who do come in."
The store has also offered deals to make up for lost business.
Cline said his store is enticing customers with coupons, box tops, door hangers and mailers. "We have a lot less carry-outs than we usually have and less deliveries because of longer delivery times," Cline said.
City Engineer Tom Gill said roadwork on the west side of the road should go faster because crews have less utility work to complete prior to paving.
City officials estimate 15,000 vehicles will use the Wesley Parkway extension once work is complete.