IRONWOOD - The fact that the parking lot at the U.S. 2 Michigan welcome center was empty around 5 p.m. Thursday shows the impact of the highway reconstruction project.
The highway was open to the visitor center entrance for both westbound and eastbound traffic, but the stretch immediately to the east was torn apart and open to single lane, westbound vehicles, only.
A few blocks away, at the Sunnyside Plaza, Angelo Luppino Construction, Iron Belt, Wis., workers were paving an alternate entrance to the plaza, which is home to seven businesses.
"We're making it easier for our customers to get in and out during the highway reconstruction project," said Mark Wesenberg, of Northstar Electronics and Appliances, one of those seven businesses.
Wesenberg said customers had been using the rear entrance, off West Coolidge Avenue, for the past week, but with all of the recent rain, it became a muddy mess.
He said many plaza customers were not aware of the alternate route until the project got under way, but they adapted to using the road.
As a result, Luppino workers were laying reground blacktop on the rear entrance road on Thursday in anticipation of the increased traffic.
Access to the plaza was also accessible to westbound traffic in the single lane on U.S. 2.
"We want to make sure our customers keep coming," Wesenberg said.
Talking about the reconstruction project that will be in effect on the west end of Cloverland Drive throughout the summer, he said, "We know it's needed."
Wesenberg said people who park in the ample plaza parking lot can also access the adjacent Safelight Auto Glass business, where access has also been adversely affected by the one-lane roadway.
West Coolidge comes off Broadway Avenue in the area of Riverside Cemetery and the back entrance to the plaza is only a short distance from West Coolidge.
The 2014 portion of the Michigan Department of Transportation project extends from the welcome center to Curry Street.
The 2015 project will cover the stretch from Curry Street to Luxmore Street.