Rt. 37 Road Project: Progress Not Painless to Many
by Crystal Norris
and Dustin Lind
Slow traffic, not being able to turn down certain roads, and a downtown area that looks more like it belongs in Baghdad; that is what life in Johnston City has been like for about the last six months.
The construction that is happening on Route 37 is not only affecting whether or not we get to work on time it is also affecting how much business the stores on Route 37 are receiving.
Some of the businesses are excessively close to the road and will either have to remodel to accommodate for the extra lane or will just be that much closer to the road.
While some feel that the change to the town is necessary, John Lorenzo, the owner of Napa, feels that "Some construction is necessary, but not to this extent. Resurfacing would have been just as appreciated without wrecking our town and making it look like a ghost town."
Although not all of the businesses see. While Tina Hale of McDonalds says, "I think the construction will have a positive impact," Bryan Gibbens of Food Shop says "It has already slowed business down. Hopefully it will not get too much worse."
Even though not all of the businesses have to remodel they will still be giving up some part of their property to accommodate for the lane. Representatives of Caseys said, " We will be losing about five feet of our parking lot." Citgo reps say " If they take as much of our parking lot as they say- we will have to relocate our underground gas storage tanks (8,000 gallons each) as well as our gas islands."
Lorenzo added his own concerns. "I will not be able to use my front parking lot, and on top of that there is a telephone pole in the middle of his lot now that customers have to watch" when entering and exiting his store.
Johnston City Mayor Vernon Kee says he understands that the construction is a hindrance at this point, but that citizens should remember, "Progress sometimes brings pain. When the pains end, the gains begin."
Kee says that all of the renovations that are taking place in the town are going to make it look up to date and give it more of a twenty-first century look. The town will be receiving not only new roads but also the State is replacing all of the water lines that are over seventy-five years old, along and under the road.
"The City could not afford the tens of thousands of dollars it would take to do this," Kee says. "This will make cleaner water and increase pressure to the residents."
All of the dirt and concrete is going to the proposed Industrial Park.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation web-site, the beginning date of the construction is November 11, 2003; yet from the looks of our town it has already started.
The proposed deadline for this construction work is June 14, 2004.