Businesses wary about months-long Montrose closure

For the third time this year, city officials have closed Montrose Avenue to through traffic, forcing motorists to  detour and cutting receipts at local businesses while crews fix a sewer line.

The closure affects Montrose
between Hermitage and Damen avenues, and could last up to 12 weeks. Depending on soil stability, crews will try to keep one lane open for local traffic, but may not be able to do so, says the Department of Water Management. 

Silvia Almanza, manager of Chicago's Pizza, located at 1919 W. Montrose, was tending an empty restaurant yesterday afternoon.

"It slows down business," she says. "Even if it's just one lane closed, it slows business a lot."

At Hazel, a small handbag and accessories boutique on Montrose just east of Damen, manager Tim Ballard says he's seen fewer customers since the project began. But the store's proximity to the Montrose El stop means steady foot traffic.

"It's part of living in a city, it has to be done," says Ballard. "It's a give and take situation. We roll with it and do the best we can."

Tom LaPorte, spokesman for the Water Management department, says officials have posted signs advertising that businesses will remain open, and will try to keep the site clean so it doesn't drive away outdoor diners.

Despite those efforts, the sidewalk tables at Glenn's Diner, 1820 W. Montrose, have been slow, says manager Trip Gray.

The closure is due to the city's decision to replace the 115-year-old sewer line under Montrose.

Previously, officials had planned to line the sewer with resin, a cheaper process that requires no excavation. But while preparing for that job, workers found the line needed to be replaced, says LaPorte.

During the construction, eastbound traffic, including buses will be routed along Wilson Avenue. Westbound busses will run uninterrupted, if crews can keep one lane open.

The CTA Brown Line stop will also remain open throughout construction.

LaPorte says the road should be re-opened in October.

Several blocks of Montrose were closed in January after a ruptured water main left a hole 15-feet deep and about 80 feet wide. At least 10 businesses were closed during that incident.

Earlier this summer, a section of sewer line collapsed, requiring officials to close Montrose for a weekend.