The construction and streetscape project in downtown Hillman is moving ahead of schedule but the traffic jams and heavy equipment down main street are making it difficult for customers to get to local businesses.
At Tuesday's Hillman Village Council meeting local store owner Doug Morrison told the trustees how many people are shopping outside of the village and offered a plan to help rectify the traffic congestion.
"My business is down 35 percent because of this and I barely made it through the winter," Morrison said. "The people in Hillman are going to Atlanta or Alpena because they don't want to go downtown. I'm just trying to keep my doors open."
Morrison outlined a plan where he would place signs in key positions that will break up the flow of traffic and bring them closer to several local businesses. He offered to allow for vehicles to commute through a portion of his parking lot if need be. He shared his plan with Ken Cortes, who is the primary contractor of the project, and Morrison said Cortes indicated the plan would help his workers as well.
"I talked to Ken and he was all for it," Morrison said. "It is a good plan and I am going to do it. I can't afford to have a bad May and June and expect to stay afloat."
The trustees said the plan was worth a try, but are concerned about heavy trucks using the side streets. They also want it to be known the original detour designed by the state is the one of record.
"The official detour is through town and if people want to take the other one, that is their choice," President Myron McIntire said. "The detour designed by the Michigan Department of Transportation will remain the same. We do have concerns that trucks are going to try to take the different root and those roads are class roads. They can't handle the weight of the large trucks. The new path would take the traffic through a new subdivision and we don't want those roads to get ruined, so it is a concern."
McIntire said the construction is moving along much better than anticipated and credits Cortes and his employees for it.
"This is progressing way better than we anticipated and we hope to have the roadwork done by the Forth of July," McIntire said. "Cortes is waiting for some of the other contractors to finish their parts. The bridge won't be done by then, but things are going very well."
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Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689.