159th Street Construction Delayed, Local Companies Losing Business

CHICAGO (CBS) — A number of businesses along 159th Street in the southwest suburbs heard from the state recently, that construction work on 159th is more than a couple of months behind schedule which is not something they wanted to hear.

IDOT said unforeseen utility issues, the need to relocate some utilities that had been under the road, having to improve soil in some areas, the need to build a wall to stabilize the new road in one location where it hadn’t been planned at first and the state budget impasse all helped push back the end date for the construction phase of the 159th Street widening.

It was to have been completed at the end of December 2018. Now, that phase will last into, at least, early 2019 according to IDOT spokeswoman Gianna Urgo. The entire project, including landscaping, is to be finished in June 2019.

159 street 2 159th Street Construction Delayed, Local Companies Losing Business

159th Street roadwork in the south suburbs (WBBM/Bernie Tafoya)

Steven Medina of Anthony’s Pizzeria in Orland Park said this has been his worst year for business in 12 years.

“It’s hard for people coming in and out of here. I got the average guy coming in here for a fast lunch and it just hurts business totally,” he said.

Medina said he’s doing all he can to generate business because of the impact of the roadwork.

“I did a festival, Italian Fest (in Mokena). I’m out there passing out menus, trying to give away free deliveries. This year, I cut my slices in half to get the kids in, so from $5 with a pop, I went to $2.50,” he said.

Yusef Abdelkader manager of Eddy’s Tobacco Shop in Homer Glen said “some people just don’t want to pull in here. It’s inconvenient for everyone. It’s understandable. It’s hard to deal with. (So what do you do?) Hope for the best.”

159 street 159th Street Construction Delayed, Local Companies Losing Business

IDOT said unforeseen utility issues, the need to relocate some utilities that had been under the road, having to improve soil in some areas, the need to build a wall to stabilize the new road in one location where it hadn’t been planned at first and the state budget impasse all helped push back the end date for the construction phase of the 159th Street widening. (WBBM/Bernie Tafoya)

Heather McCabe manages the Will-Cook Ace Hardware in Homer Glen and is counting the days for the project to be over. She said the store has suffered a big loss of “drive-by” business because of motorists who are using anything but 159th Street.

“People are going by going, ‘Yeah, I need to stop there for this,’ but if they’re not coming this way, they’re not doing that. They don’t go out of their way to go through construction,” she said.

McCabe said the hardware store is trying to bring in business with promotions.

“I know there’s been email blasts with different coupons going out on the weekends to try and
draw more business in, just whatever we can think of to try and promote it,” she said.

Chad Allison manager of Big Tex Trailer World, formerly known as, Wild Bill’s RV and Outdoor Center. It’s a trailer store and is affected in a different way – in getting product to the store.

“We bring in about three or four tractor-trailer loads of trailers per week and I’ve been turned away by freight companies because they don’t want to come down the road,” Allison said.

He said that before he sold his store this spring to Big Tex Trailer World, he had also been selling golf carts at his store. He said that, as construction progressed, his drive-by business “went into the tank to almost zero because people can’t stop. They can’t see it.”

Some business people said their driveways are blocked by construction sometimes making it even more difficult for potential customers.

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