Reopening Illinois: IDOT construction throws wrench in Richmond, Ill., businesses' reopening plan

RICHMOND, Ill. (WLS) -- Some small businesses owners in the village of Richmond, in McHenry County, said their careful plans to finally reopen as Illinois moves into Phase 3 are being wrecked by planned street and sidewalk construction.

The owners said they're already losing business across the state line to Wisconsin, where businesses reopened after the State Supreme Court threw out Governor Tony Evers' stay-at-home order.

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The new construction project feels, to them, like they just hit another road block to reaping the financial benefits of entering the next phase of Governor JB Pritzker's reopening plan.

"I was devastated," said Diana Reed, who owns a shop in downtown Richmond. "I had a day or two of the high of being able to open again and then turn around like, what? This isn't happening now."

IDOT recently started a construction project that includes patching and resurfacing a two mile stretch of Main Street and constructing ADA compliant sidewalk ramps.

"We have a restaurant where outdoor seating is available, so it is not really a convenient time to open up and let people sit out on the sidewalks that are being ripped up," said Gina Garbis, restaurant owner.

IDOT officials said the project was already in the works, and the road is in need of repair with numerous potholes. The estimated completion date is August.

"I just want to know why this had to be right now versus the months we were shut down," Reed said. "That would have been perfect to take care of all these things."

"It's not good for business. My landlord still comes for rent on the first," said Angela Olofson, coffee shop owner.

The community has already been impacted by losing customers across the border to Wisconsin.

"Once they opened up across the border, we saw an 80 percent dip in sales," Reed said.

"We are trying to remain positive and roll with the punches. It just seems like they just keep coming," Garbis said.

This downtown has experienced a resurgence over the last several years with new businesses moving in. They're hoping this Main Street will bounce back from COVID-19.

"We are Richmond, Illinois, and we are open for business this weekend," said Garbis. "We are here despite the conditions."
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