In This Together case study - WIS 16 Oconomowoc, Waukesha
The City of Oconomowoc faced some heavy challenges when WIS 16
was in serious need of reconstruction, right in the heart of
downtown. Area businesses understood the need for the new road, but
had large concerns about accessibility to their storefronts and
keeping business profitable.
Understanding the need for the reconstruction, business owners
and people within the community wanted to keep construction to a
maximum of one year, which meant completely closing WIS 16 to local
and through traffic.
Working closely with business owners and the Chamber of Commerce,
project managers and construction crews worked to minimize the
project's impact on businesses.
For example, even though most businesses had access from rear
entrances, crews worked to keep the sidewalks open as long as
possible, utilizing orange fencing along both sides of the street
and make-shift crosswalks marked with orange signs to block off
areas where pedestrians could still walk and access front entrances
to businesses along WIS 16.
The city provided marketing funds for promoting downtown during
construction. Newspaper advertising, billboards on WIS 16, TV
commercials, radio advertising and raffle drawings for gift
certificates ran from June through September to inform the community
that businesses were still open and to entice consumers to continue
to utilize services downtown.
Businesses organized a downtown business group called Downtown
Oconomowoc Merchants Association (DOMA) that held planning meetings
prior to construction and for the duration of the project. The group
created large signs listing specific businesses and a local detour
route. The signs were displayed at both ends of the project. Other
signage provided directions to alternate parking lots.
DOMA also coordinated "First Friday" events. On the
first Friday of every month during construction, some businesses
stayed open later than normal and displayed items from their stores
on the sidewalk. Bands and other live entertainment performed.
Events not only provided a way to do business, but also served a
social function to bring the community together.
Because of the tight project timeline, crews worked long hours on
the job site. On numerous occasions, businesses provided lunch and
dinner for WisDOT and construction staff.
While business surely did not run as usual, the teamwork on the
part of all involved made the project run as smoothly as possible.
Both construction crews and business owners were able to develop an
understanding for each other's roles within the project, and very
few complaints were voiced.