Construction on Main Street causing problems for businesses
In October, it is not unusual to pass multiple businesses closed for the season on Main Street while brushing shoulders with only a handful of tourists. This year, though, feels a little different.
Construction signs, barricades and large trucks crowd the intersection of Heber Avenue and Main Street as crews replace a broken water line. The road closure and loud noises seem to be deterring visitors from taking a stroll on Lower Main Street, and businesses cannot ignore the impact. They say the construction, which began in early October, has dampened sales.
“The past week, it has just been dead,” said John Flinchum, director of Willie Holdman Photographs at 580 Main St.
He said the ongoing repairs are another reason for people to avoid the area. He has heard from customers that getting to Main Street can already be a hassle, particularly in light of the paid parking introduced last year in the China Bridge parking garage.
The area has been closed to traffic since the water line broke on Sept. 27. Clint McAffee, public utilities director for Park City, said he decided to close Heber Avenue during the project in order to finish the work quicker. The construction is expected to be completed by Nov. 9, he said.
Marianne Maltman, a sales agent for Robert Kelly Home on Main Street, said the repairs have been a big obstacle for visitors.
“People can’t get up the street,” she said.
Candy Baron, gallery manager of Terzian Galleries, cannot avoid the construction because it is just a few steps from her business’s door. She said the road work has negatively impacted her business. At a gallery stroll on Main Street recently, hardly anyone showed up.
The situation got worse when the construction crew accidentally caused a gas leak on Oct. 30, which permeated lower Main Street, pushing people even further away from her store.
“The smell was so bad, you couldn’t be on Main Street,” Baron said.
The clothing and shoe store Mary Jane’s has been having similar troubles from the repairs. Large construction vehicles have repeatedly parked in front of the store, blocking the entrance, said Ashley Williams, a manager at the store. After the owner complained, the vehicles left.
Still, she said, all the road work has been “terrible.”
Williams said the slow seasons have seemed to be getting busier in recent years. But the last few weeks have been reminiscent of years past when few visitors would make their way to Main Street.
After 6 p.m., Flinchum said, it is like a ghost town on the historic street. The shift from a busy summer to a very quiet fall has been a shock.
McAffee said other than the complaints about parked construction vehicles, he has heard minimal grievances from business owners. He said it has been a “balancing act” to make sure there is enough access to the business district and enough space to get the project done.
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