Milton Bypass: "Full House" Bakery not so full

By: Max Hess - Email
By: Max Hess - Email
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UPDATED Thursday, August 21, 2014 -- 10:00 p.m.

The classic sound of churning dough, and the yummy smell of baking sweets -- the kitchen at the Full House Bakery in Milton has it all.

Owners Heather Gray and Angela Longemore met during their jobs at St. Mary's Hospital in Janesville and found out quickly that they shared a passion.

"Always something, you know, I thought about... owning my own business," Heather said.

Angela said they've always had a love for baking, so opening their bakery together wasn't a hard decision.

They wanted to find the right place for it, and when Milton popped up on the map, "born was full house bakery," Heather explained -- but that house they hoped to be so full soon appeared only empty.

"I mean, we could look out our front window...and there really wasn't car traffic, much less foot traffic," Heather said.

They both thought Merchant Row would be the best place for the shop, especially because other business owners in the area told them so, but they didn't know what kind of an impact the bypass would have.

The US-26 bypass diverts traffic away from downtown Milton.

It's caused problems for businesses NBC15 has been reporting about all summer, but now it has caused the first business to actually close.

As of August 30, the Full House bakery will shut their doors -- for good.

The DOT sent a written statement to NBC15 clarifying their intentions and improvements with situation in Milton.

"The Department of Transportation has worked closely with local officials to improve and add signage in the Milton area. In June the City of Milton, Town of Milton and Rock County approved a Business Highway 26 designation to better identify a route through the downtown. The agreement among the three local units enabled the DOT to begin adding Milton signs at key spots along the Highway 26 bypass. New signs were installed in July. In addition, the DOT revised the existing signs to give Milton more visibility. Additional signage will be added along the southbound lanes of Highway 26 in conjunction with the current construction project north of Milton.

The Milton bypass, like bypasses throughout the state, was designed in partnership with citizens and stakeholders to remove highway traffic from the downtown area to improve safety and efficiency in the community. The removal of thru traffic has proven to make downtown areas more attractive for folks choosing to stop for business, entertainment or recreation. The Department of Transportation is committed to continuing to work with Milton in helping make adjustments to the new, safer transportation system in the area."

Although Angela and Heather say they think those changes will help, they say it's just not enough.

"We loved our shop and you know... it's just really frustrating for us," Angela said.

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Posted Wednesday, May 7, 2014 -- 10:00 p.m.

Lesley Hammer says there's a bypass that basically cut Milton out from the rest of the world.

"The traffic patterns have changed quite a bit so we've lost a lot of traffic through the town of Milton."

Hammer is talking about the WI-26 bypass that was completed last year.

"The bypass is built around and Milton is down lower so right now you really can't see it," she explained.

Hammer is the office manager at Hammer Chiropractic, right off of the now slow (old) state road 26.

Business has been slower than usual ever since the bypass was completed.

"As a business person, in order for people to find Milton and our businesses, we need to tell them that we're here," Hammer said.

Now, there is a plan that could help.

A new, 33-foot sign welcoming and directing drivers back towards Milton has been approved by the city.

It costs $24,995 and is planned for a property right off of the new bypass.

"It's been a very important project for our city over the last 18 months," said Jerry Schuetz, Milton's city administrator.

Schuetz added that it's a project with a clear goal, saying that they want to "find a way to better promote the City of Milton, and to let people know that they have arrived in the City of Milton, primarily as a result of the highway 26 bypass project."

While Schuetz agrees it is a big chunk of cash, he says the money for the project is there.

"It was a planned and prioritized effort of the mayor and the city council to have funds set aside."

While the sign has been approved by the city, Mayor Brett Frazier told NBC15 via phone that they are still waiting to sign an easement.

Frazier said they only have a verbal agreement from the property owner where the sign is planned to be put up.

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Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2014 -- 10:00 p.m.

"Everybody is against a bypass," said Milton Mayor Brett Frazier.

The opinion of most people in Milton seems to be clear.

A bypass completed late last year is a cause for a serious business headache.

The WI-26 bypass is turning what used to be the busiest road in Milton in to a traffic desert, with very few cars passing by.

"People are referring to the disappearing Milton," Frazier explained, saying that people that are intending to come to Milton are now ending up in different cities in either direction.

Frazier says that Milton was prepared for the bypass, but is still asking the DOT for some help.

"We knew there would be some ups and downs with the bypass, and we accept those."

Frazier is now asking the DOT to make some changes, including:

-Designating WI-59 to the old WI-26 as a "business route".
-Redoing a sign on I-39's exit 8 to place Milton on top.
-Adding "Milton" to signs on I-39's exit 6 & 10.
-Adding signs saying "Milton Next 3 Exits".
-Installing larger signs directing towards Milton
-Beginning an engineering review by the DOT.

Lesley Hammer, the officer manager at Hammer Chiropractic located on the now quiet main road, agrees with the Mayor's requests.

"The signage to tell people how to get to the city is non-existent," she said.

"Probably the best thing for us to do in this situation that we have is to take a look at the signage that's here to redirect people and the traffic to the areas that we need them," she added.

According to Hammer, until that's fixed, the City of Milton will be facing a major challenge.

Hammer said the main road used to have close to 30,000 cars a day before the bypass was completed.


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