As La Crosse road construction persists, Jackson Plaza business owners face slowdown

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Though Jackson Plaza is located on an ordinarily busy road, businesses in the plaza are no strangers to a slowdown in foot traffic.

“It seems like they do construction every year on Jackson Street,” said Dylan Woodman, a barista at Bean Juice in the plaza.

Construction began on the stretch of road in front of Jackson Plaza last month, but work on Jackson Street has been ongoing since July.

“It’s one of the heaviest trafficked streets in the entire city, day in and day out, morning and night,” said Kay Mazza, owner of Oolala! Consign in the plaza.

Rerouting around Jackson Street, and getting to those businesses in the plaza is something that can be tricky for drivers to navigate.

For established businesses in the plaza, it can mean fewer new faces.

“I’m still busy, but not as busy because people don’t know how to get here. And that’s the truth!” said Michelle Smith, a cosmetologist at Reflections in the plaza.

“We have a very dedicated, regular base of people who enjoy their bean juice. We’ve been open for 20 years, so we still have a very loyal following from those people,” Woodman said.

For new businesses, they face a different challenge.

“I do think it’s harder for a newer business to get off the ground. Because of the road construction and the COVID—it’s just been a little bit tougher,” Smith said.

Oolala! Consign opened in June… and Mazza expected traffic to drop significantly, but underestimated the resilience of the public.

“I realize the determination of customers trying to get places now,” Mazza said.

The business owners are grateful for those dedicated to navigating the roadblocks, even though they’ll have to wait a little longer.

“We’re still trying to figure out how to let people we’re here in the first place; so it’s kind of a perfect storm. It’ll be a beautiful road when it’s done, so everything goes up from here, right?” Mazza said.

A representative from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation told News 8 Now that the road project is expected to be completed Nov. 5. Construction on Jackson Street and State Road includes curb ramp upgrades, and pavement and storm sewer repairs.

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