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Construction mess on Cascade Road at I-96 slows down business

Posted at 7:14 PM, Apr 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-08 19:14:20-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- When complete, new construction on Cascade Road will transform it from a busy and congested intersection into a smooth, flowing commute. Until then, some business owners say the construction will hurt their bottom line.

One of the businesses affected by the construction is Keystone Pharmacy. David Miller with the business is concerned about the backed up traffic putting the brakes on business.

"At times of day, there’s just nothing you can do," Miller said. "The traffic backs up on 96, the lights aren’t timed really well. The MDOT engineers have promised us that they’re going to keep an eye on the lights and try to time those, but when you knock a five-lane road down to two lanes, it doesn’t matter what you do with the lights; traffic’s still going to become a challenge."

The construction being put in is called a diverging diamond interchange (DDI), which are interchanges that can more efficiently handle areas that see heavy left-turn traffic.

"Traffic is crossed over to the opposite side of the road," John Richard with MDOT told FOX 17 Friday. "And that way, vehicles are lined up with the ramps, so it’s more of a free flow movement on the ramps. Which eliminates the left turn signal phase and increases the through time for traffic.”

Richard explained that the existing infrastructure was built in the 1960's and is in need of a refresh. However, the construction is estimated to last until the end of the year in December; trouble for businesses that are already used to seeing traffic build-ups.

"In the best of times when we don’t have road construction, traffic’s a challenge. But when we have road construction, traffic becomes really challenging.," Miller said. According to him, the pharmacy will do everything they can to mitigate the impact the construction will have on their patients, including offering free home and office delivery.

Richard acknowledges the problems that business on Cascade are experiencing, saying that they've put up signs letting people know businesses are open. Ultimately, MDOT says that short term pain will be worth it once the DDI is complete.

"They promised us once it's done, everything will be wonderful," Miller said. "We'll wait and see."