With the outrage brought about by a Consumers Energy construction project’s late notification of business owners downtown, the City of Jackson and Consumers Energy are working quickly with impacted businesses on a compromise that minimizes the disruption the project may cause.
The project is a proactive move by Consumers Energy to help meet the energy demands and improve energy reliability for future growth in the area. The project, according to the notification to their customers in the area, is scheduled to run from August 20th to November 20th, closing Pearl Street downtown between N. Jackson Street and N. Mechanic Street. Brian Wheeler, Senior Public Information Director at Consumers Energy, says, “The entire stretch of road is supposed to be closed for the entire time.” A document provided to businesses indicates that parking lots will be accessible from Michigan Avenue on the south side of the street, and W. Louis Glick Highway on the north; and businesses will be accessible by foot via the sidewalks. Deliveries and garbage pickup will also need to be rerouted. (UPDATE): The County confirmed that their parking lot will be available for access on Pearl Street, as this is the only method of access to their lot.
Meanwhile, Consumers is engaged in dialog with the City, and they are actively trying to get a portion of the road open during the work, to minimize the impact to businesses. Ideally, the city would like them to work on sections at a time to keep as much of the road open as possible. They are currently in discussions with CE to get specifics sorted. Assistant City Engineer Troy White said, “We’re actively working on it.”
Consumers acknowledges that the project is a disruption, and they are working diligently to ensure that the work doesn’t completely hamstring the area. Wheeler added, “We appreciate the patience of businesses and property owners who are affected by this planned work. This project is necessary to continue delivering energy reliably to the downtown area. We understand this will have an impact on their work, and we will strive to work as fast as possible to minimize the impact on their businesses.”
Business owners have hope that something can get done before they break ground. Joe Brandeberry, owner of Nite Lite said, “I’ve talked with City Manager Patrick Burtch and he’s trying to work on behalf of the businesses to keep the lanes open. He’s had some great communication with me to make sure our businesses stay open. Is it frustrating? Sure, but we’re hoping they can shorten it up to a 30 day project and keep one of the lanes open.”
Stay tuned to WKHM.com for the latest updates on the situation.