SIOUX CITY -- It was a long slog, but West Seventh Street businesses are glad to have the street open to traffic again.
The remaking of West Seventh -- a 1 1/2-year-long project that replaced the entire roadway of the business corridor along with the water main and street appearance improvements -- wrapped up late last year. Segments of the road were blocked off for months at a time during the project, creating difficulties for commuters, businesses and customers.
Contracted by the city for just over $8 million, the project replaced the surface of the street and sidewalks between Wesley Parkway and Hamilton Boulevard. The street now has a westbound lane, an eastbound lane and a turning lane in between, where before there were four lanes.
Jill Wanderscheid, the city's neighborhood services manager, said the street's water main, parts of which were believed to date back to the 19th century, had been on the city's radar for years.
"That was kind of the starting point, the catalyst for the project," Wanderscheid said. Plans for the project became grander over time, and the city decided to replace the entire roadway and its sidewalks, adding colored concrete, trees and decorative planters, signs, corner curb extensions and bus stops.
The new pavement is expected to last 50 years, while the new pipes are expected to survive a century.
The city also provided financial assistance to some businesses along the street to improve their facades with tuckpointing, new windows and lighting.
Harlan Lessman, owner of Lessman Lighting Center, 805 W. Seventh St., said he appreciates the new appearance of the street. His building got a bit of a facade upgrade -- some new awnings -- early in the project.
"I'm glad it's done," Lessman said. "I think it'll be nice, I guess they tried to clean it up and make it look a little nicer."
Veronica Zenk worked with the city to turn an old machine shop at 222 W. Seventh St. into Sew in Style, a business specializing in hair weaves, wigs and accessories. Before she decided to go into business for herself on West Seventh, Zenk worked for more than 21 years at the Sioux Honey Association Co-Op.
She worked with the city to purchase the West Seventh building, spent 10 months remodeling, and was given a forgivable loan if she spends five years in the building. Sew in Style opened Jan. 16.
"I love the way things turned out," Zenk said. "It's exactly the way I want it to be."
John Reidesel, who owns Siouxland Lock and Key, 216 W Seventh St., was, on the whole, glad to see the long project completed at last.
Construction on the eastern end of West Seventh, where Siouxland Lock and Key is situated, wrapped up in 2017. Customers had a tough time navigating the torn-up street during both years of construction, so he's happy to have the whole thoroughfare open for business again.
"Now that it's finally opened up, we've seen a big difference in the walk-in traffic coming in," he said.
Reidesel purchased a large key-shaped sidewalk sculpture from the city to jazz up his shop's curb appeal, and installed a new sign.
Lessman said his business took advantage of the torn-up water main. Lessman Lighting was able to change its building's old utility hook-up when the city dug out the old water main.
And Lessman said his customers are dedicated -- they'd come to the shop one way or another, even when it was hard to get in because the sidewalk was gone.
"Our business thrives on construction and progress, so can't really complain a whole lot," he said.
Wanderscheid said the city still needs to wrap up some final details of the West Seventh project.
"We just have some minor things to do this spring, like landscaping," she said.