ALTON - Local businesses have been working around the Illinois American Water project for a few years now. Schwegel’s Market at 901 Alby Street reflects on the difficulties they’ve faced throughout the construction.
“It’s been quite a hassle,” co-owner Mike Schwegel said. “It’s been a bite.”
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The Illinois American Water project aims to separate the combined Alton sewer system. They are installing a new sewer system that will be safer for the community.
But the project has taken its toll on small businesses like Schwegel’s Market. Road closures throughout downtown Alton have been common over the past few years due to the construction. With 9th Street closed, Schwegel’s Market has been losing customers since the beginning of the project around November 2021.
“We had 15–17,000 customers a month, and last month I had 11,200,” Schwegel said. He believes that the store’s newly opened video gaming section is a major reason why their doors are still open.
In a recent press release, Illinois American Water acknowledged that construction can be inconvenient, but said the road closures are “necessary” to ensure safety for workers and residents.
“We do our best to minimize the length of construction, but our #1 priority is safety,” the press release read. “At times, road and sidewalk closures may be extended to support our commitment to safety.”
Schwegel thanked the customers who have continued to support the grocery store. He encouraged Alton residents to remember that the market is still open and asked for their support as the construction continues.
“Just because the road’s closed and they don’t drive by anymore, they don’t stop in and buy a gallon of milk and this and that,” Schwegel said. “And who wants to drive on these roads? I mean, they’re horrible. You never know which way you’re going to have to go.”
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