"Middleton is open for business … "
That's the message coming from the community's Chamber of Commerce. A bypass around the city on the west side concerns some businesses. Some employees fear what they lose in traffic they might also lose in customers.
Bartender Debbie Von Behren sees these customers every Wednesday.
"I call them the Meatloaf boys," she says.
They are regulars who come for the daily special.
Von Behren says, "I think our regulars will find their way here ... no ifs, ands, or buts about it."
But she worries the new Highway 12 bypass will cause other customers to bypass Fitzgerald's.
She says, "We still get people in the door on a daily basis saying we never heard of this place before ..."
She says "old highway 12" as an off-street could mean a drop off in business from out of towners.
"When the bypass is finished, it's certainly going to eliminate a lot of traffic."
But that's exactly what others in Middleton hope drives business in this corridor.
Van Nutt from the Chamber of Commerce says, "There will be definitely some degree of drop off in impulse stops, there's no doubt about that. But given the volume of traffic, the number of impulse stops has crawled to a minimum. If you can't make a left hand turn to get into some place ... not gonna stop there."
An engineer on the project agrees.
"What this really does is it enhances business and makes it a more driver-friendly business climate," engineer Curt Neuhauser says.
Because ... they say the bypass makes travel safer and more convenient.
Nutt says, "A couple of extra turns is not going to make a difference for most people."
Still ... Von Behren says a couple of minutes could make a difference for some people.
"They may not take detours to get here ... even though we have quick lunches," Von Behren says.
Fitzgerald's plans to serve a hot lunch buffet to entice drivers on the go ... to go a little out of the way.
"I just hope people follow the signs and get here. I think they will ... take a matter of time," Von Behren says.
The DOT recommends people access Middleton's business district through the Airport Road exit, or just follow the signs. The agency expects to complete the project in November.
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