Businesses struggle as Jenison road work projects continue

JENISON, Mich.-- Some business owners in Ottawa County are frustrated after a road project continues to get pushed back.

The Cottonwood Drive road project in Jenison was supposed to be complete two months ago, that’s what people were told when the project started last winter. But it’s December and the road’s still not open. Now, business owners are losing tens of thousands of dollars every month and are facing the possibility of closing for good.

Drivers started seeing the orange barrels and construction tape back in February when tree cutting began.  The road closures started in May and were expected to only be closed through October.

"It’s just progressively gotten longer and longer and longer," said Grant Luokkanen, an employee at J&H Family Store on Cottonwood Drive. "I was told that today it would be done and open for public driving, completely done with leveling and topping and they’re not even done with the base.”

Grant Luokkanen works at the J&H Family Store on Cottonwood and Bauer in Jenison. He sees the effects from the road closures every day.

"It’s impacted us huge business-wise with dead hours, vendors that come in and stuff like that, they have to take back roads and getting anywhere and being from the community, it takes twice as long to get anywhere you want to.”

He says business has been cut more than half: losing tens of thousands of dollars each month.

"You’re looking at maybe 100 to 114 customers in the morning compared to when we had 200-250, so it’s definitely cut.”

Cottonwood Drive is being widened to two lanes in each direction with a turn lane in between. The project has been delayed because of weather and labor disputes.

"It’s definitely frustrating," said Luokkanen. "Business-wise, we’re dead. It’s affecting companies, I know there’s daycares in this neighborhood and people are flying through the neighborhood because this road’s not done, so that’s endangering people there too.”

A man who works for the construction company told FOX 17 they’re finishing basing the road on Wednesday, which will make it drivable, but certainly not smooth.  There's no word on when the road will open to drivers. Surfacing and finishing won’t happen till after the winter since all the asphalt companies in Michigan close for the season on Friday.

Luokkanen's just hoping the road will be open sooner rather than later.

"We’re definitely waiting to get business back, it’s just been crazy," said Luokkanen.

FOX 17 reached out to the Ottawa County Road Commission about the project, but haven’t heard back from them yet. If workers are out basing the road tomorrow, they are continuing to work without a contract.

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3 comments

  • tosor

    Let’s ask every resident and small business owner on Cottonwood if they think a union is a good thing! This project should have been done a long time ago.

  • Joe schmoe

    It needed to be done. Our society, the majority, wants instant gratification, won’t put the effort in to make things better. The businesses will benefit in the long run from increased traffic; I personally have always avoid going down cotton wood due to congestion. I’ll never go back to the mow shop, turning left was impossible.