Business owners frustrated, but see value in Hand Avenue improvements
Some businesses along Hand Avenue are hurting as a result of the 18-month construction project currently under way. But the business owners understand the work needed to be done.
Progress on the 18-month Hand Avenue construction project continues as crews finish up the first phase and open up additional access to some businesses.
Although those businesses have been negatively impacted by the limited entrances and increased isolation, for the most part they understand the work needs to be done and simply hope to minimize losses.
“Right now it hurts,” said Hitesh Patel, co-owner of the Grocery Box on the corner of U.S. 1 and Hand Avenue, who added he’s lost roughly 25% of his business during the construction. “But myself, I have to understand. My business (is here) and I live down here. So I don’t want it to flood.”
Patel said when the construction on his corner is finished and open to the public, his business will recover.
"You can't necessarily blame them,” City Engineer John Noble said of frustrated business owners. “We have road ripped up that they can't drive on. We don’t cut anyone off completely, though.”
The city has established detour routes and posted signs. And Noble said all the businesses have at least one point of entry.
This last week, the city posted a message board at the corner of Nova Road and Hand Avenue, warning drivers of slowing traffic and the entering and exiting of construction vehicles.
The entire project, which includes work in five areas along Hand Avenue, is scheduled to be completed at the end of July 2013.
Among the improvements the project aims to provide is the ability to pump water out of small lakes in the immediate area.
“The Central Park lakes are landlocked, and water couldn't go anywhere,” Noble said of previous floods in the construction area. “They’re interconnecting the lakes. If there's a hurricane coming, we'll have the ability to pump water out."
Noble added that the city will be able to lower the lakes by a couple of feet over the course of a day.
Other improvements include the addition of turn lanes on Hand Avenue at Center Street and South Orchard Street.