Loop Construction Hurting Nearby Businesses - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/12/07-Longview

Loop Construction Hurting Nearby Businesses

There's a major construction project underway in Longview and while it might help traffic problems in the future, right now, its causing a lot of headaches for drivers and businesses. The construction is along Loop 281, from Gilmer Road to Tuttle Boulevard. Construction just started Monday, but business owners say they're already feeling the affects.

On Loop 281, construction is blocking off the center turn lane causing people to make U-turns around it or ignore the construction altogether and cut through it.

"It's just very difficult to get to where you want to go here," says driver Tess Iffland.

That's because raised medians are being installed along the stretch of the Loop. They're meant to cut down on the number of left-turn accidents, and have done so in cities like Tyler, but right now, they're hurting, not helping, local businesses, like Terry's Furniture.

"Unfortunately it's caused the business to go down because it's too combusted, people going different directions so they don't want to pull in," says Jason Cochran, General Manager of Terry's Furniture.

And construction is causing some concern across the street at Toyota of Longview as well. They even plan on changing their advertising slogan.

"Even though it's a little harder to find us, we'll certainly do everything we can do make your visit worth while," says Toyota General Sales Manager Steve Kelley.

But perhaps the hardest hit are nearby restaurants. They're afraid customers will just keep driving and find another place to eat. 

"We already saw that, people they just drove by, and...they can't come in, they have to keep going, you know they only have 30 to 40 minutes for lunch...we've already dropped probably about 30 percent since they started," says Eric Yoan, owner of Lotus Inn Chinese Restaurant. 

So while business owners say they hope the medians do reduce accidents, right now, they're just hoping the construction will end soon enough.

A representative from TxDOT says while traffic delays and inconvenience are to be expected, the project is necessary. They want to keep Loop 281 up to speed with the boom in Longview's economic growth. 

The project is scheduled to be completed by next November, meaning before the Christmas shopping season begins. But right now, some businesses say they just hope to make it through these next ten months. 

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com.

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