Work halts traffic

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 6, 2001

Staff Writer

Some Troy merchants are learning about growing pains.

In September, a renovation project began, but retail business owners are experiencing not only the dust and dirt associated with construction projects. They are also having to deal with losses in parking spaces during what is their money-making time.

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A project that will involve new sidewalks

The $370,696.50 sidewalk project will be paid for with Ice Tea grant funds from the Alabama Department of Transportation and has involved breaking up old sidewalks and making new ones, curbing, utility work and drainage improvements.

Prior to work beginning, Bob Carter of Bob Carter and Associates said there would be "quite a bit of disruption to normal activity," but pledged to work with those merchants impacted most by the construction.

Although it will be difficult to gain access to those merchants on the downtown square, Carter said "it’s critical every business and customer have access at all times," so sales will not be interrupted.

Dale Fritz of Dale Fritz and Associates said he especially wanted to minimize impact to business around the holidays.

However, business owners like Tim Oliver say they are being hurt by the road closings necessary for the work.

"It’s terrible," Oliver said, adding it is especially hard during the shopping season. "This is the absolute worse time of the year."

His store may be on the square and not in the area of the actual construction, but Oliver said he has lost parking.

"Right now, there is not a single parking space in front of my store," he said Wednesday afternoon.

"I’m worried about how many times they (potential customers) will ride around to find parking."

Scherr Qualls, who serves on the Retail Committee of the Downtown Revitalization Committee, said parking is the "biggest issue" of the construction.

"I don’t know that it’s impacted, yet," Qualls said of the shopping season. "It hasn’t been a problem as of yet, but it could be in another week."

Although Oliver may have lost some money, he did express concern for those businesses being directly impacted by the work.

"That has to have killed their business," Oliver said of the businesses on Market Street.

Bobbie Croswell, who works at Floral Boutique on Market Street, said the process has "been inconvenient, but that’s what progress is."

She has heard some customer complaints, but "everyone is looking forward to it being beautiful" once the dust settles on the new sidewalks and landscaping is complete.

City Planner Calvin Lott said he understands the project has been inconvenient and hopes the big, gaping holes in the concrete around downtown Troy are no longer there in a little over a week.

The contract allows 180 days to complete the work, but those involved in the project do not expect to take a full six months to complete it. Actually, they hoped to have most of the work completed by the end of November.

Lott said he is looking for the work ­ with the exception of some landscaping ­ will be complete by the middle of January.

By next Friday the big holes should be gone, Lott said.

Another problem area has been near First United Methodist Church where construction on a new fellowship hall is well underway. That project has also brought traffic to a halt in the downtown area.

One thing that would free up some parking spaces is for the downtown business owners to ask employees to "walk a block," which is something Qualls has done in an effort to leave slots for paying customers.