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$3M construction project snarling traffic and causing business headaches in Portage

$3M construction project snarling traffic and causing business headaches in Portage. (WWMT/Ray Hole)

A multimillion dollar construction project has clogged South Westnedge Avenue one of the most traveled roads in Kalamazoo County.

"I'm having to take an extra 20 minutes off my day just to prep for the traffic," said Gail Deau.

She lives on a side-street off Westnedge where construction has made coming and going a journey in itself.

"This has turned into a job and a half just going anywhere that's why I prefer to walk," Deau said.

Faster on foot, she now walks to the store.

Work is underway on the city's $3 million project to resurface the pavement, improve sidewalks, add ramps at crosswalks, install curbs with cement gutters and upgrades to the water main and storm drain system to reduce flooding. A new traffic signal will also be installed at the JL Hudson intersection.

Work is expected to be completed in early September. Until then, Portage officials say through traffic should use alternative routes.

Deau said, "It's a daily struggle not only for my husband and me but for my kids to even go out and do anything with all this back up traffic constantly."

The construction zone on South Westnedge stretches from Mall Drive to Romence Road, which is a little more than half a mile, but the bottleneck traffic can back up beyond the orange construction drums.

"It really hurts small businesses like us," said Danny Nguyen, owner of TL Nails on Spa.

Located in a strip mall off South Westnedge, Nguyen said he typically sees about ten customers by mid-afternoon and by that time Tuesday he hadn't seen a single customer come in.

All driveways to businesses along South Westnedge will remain open, until resurfacing starts.

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