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St. Charles business owners celebrate traffic easing on Route 64

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(Ashley Sloboda – asloboda@shawmedia.com)
St. Charles City Administrator Mark Koenen prepares to cut the ribbon Thursday during a ceremony celebrating the end of construction along a portion of Route 64 in St. Charles. Among those joining him are St. Charles Chamber of Commerce President Stacey Ekstrom (far left), as well as city leaders, including Mayor Ray Rogina (fourth from left).

ST. CHARLES – Jeanine Fitzmaurice, owner of Curves along East Main Street in St. Charles, stood in the parking lot of Foxboro Plaza on Thursday afternoon feeling “very optimistic.”

She – along with many others, including St. Charles City Council members and city staff – gathered at the shopping center to celebrate the end of construction on Route 64 between Seventh Avenue and Kirk Road.

Route 64 is known as Main Street in St. Charles.

The Illinois Department of Transportation began a reconstruction and widening project on Route 64 between Seventh Avenue in St. Charles to Route 59 in West Chicago in April 2012.

During construction, traffic on East Main Street was bumper-to-bumper – congestion Curves members actively avoided, Fitzmaurice said.

“It affected us by the sense that women weren’t coming to work out,” said Fitzmaurice, noting the fitness center’s business was down by about 30 percent.

All lanes on Route 64 between Seventh Avenue and Kirk Road opened to traffic late last month – a milestone businesses and community leaders are trying to promote.

St. Charles Toyota owner Michael Alf said he hoped the ribbon-cutting ceremony would help spread the message.

“That’s why we’re here as business owners,” he said.

The construction on East Main Street briefly closed his car dealership’s pre-owned facility, which opened during construction, he said. But sales weren’t the only aspect affected by the work.

“It affected [business] dramatically, especially on the service side,” said Alf, noting that for some customers a 20-minute trip turned into an hour.

Now, Alf said, the challenge is getting the word out that Route 64 is easier to travel on than ever.

St. Charles City Administrator Mark Koenen made similar statements before cutting the ceremonial ribbon.

“Our businesses are ready and open,” he said.

As a way to encourage women to return to Curves, Fitzmaurice said those who join now will receive their first month free.

Four people have joined in the past three days, she said.

“I’m feeling very optimistic,” she said.

Construction on Route 64 between 38th Avenue in St. Charles to Route 59 is expected to be finished by Oct. 1.

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