Every business is affected by traffic, with varying results. But for businesses rendered inaccessible by detours, gravel and clouds of dust, city improvements can hurt the bottom line.
Roadwork has become increasingly common in Colorado Springs since John Suthers became the city’s mayor in 2015 and began spearheading a campaign to mend parts of Colorado Springs’ aging infrastructure in desperate need of repair. The city began to undertake large roadwork projects last year thanks to $250 million (over five years) in revenue collected via the voter-approved 2C city sales tax (.62 percent).
“With the start of our second year of 2C paving, we are building upon the significant progress made in 2016 with almost 230 lane miles paved,” Suthers said in an April news release.
However, while the city has tackled or embarked on repaving and construction projects in every part of town since the beginning of last year, much of the city remains riddled with potholes and uneven lanes.
“We still have much work to do to improve the overall condition of our roads, but the return of cone zones throughout Colorado Springs signals that we are well on that path,” the mayor said.
This year, crews are involved in projects affecting several business districts. Near the intersection of Centennial Boulevard and Garden of the Gods Road, traffic is limited to one lane and has interfered with some businesses’ visibility; a portion of West Uintah Street has been closed; projects downtown have limited customer access to businesses. Also, major work on West Colorado/Manitou Avenue (funded by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority) is disrupting traffic and affecting businesses.
The repairs will one day benefit nearby businesses. But for now, some say they offer their fair share of annoyance.
Centennial Boulevard between W. Fillmore Street and Garden of the Gods Road
owner of The Gun Cleaners
(4211 Centennial Blvd.)
“It really hasn’t impacted my business much at all. Obviously there is traffic obstruction all over the place, especially at these intersections, and it is harder to get into the shopping center — but I haven’t had any complaints about the traffic, and I don’t complain about it. I haven’t had a problem with it, and I think it will be good for the community once it’s done. Walgreens and Ace Hardware have been a help to the business because I get a lot of walk-in traffic from people walking between the two.”
Jerry Gainey, employee at Bird Dog BBQ
(4153 Centennial Blvd.)
“The construction is terrible and really doesn’t help business. Customers come in all the time and tell us we’re hidden back here and that they can’t see our sign because of all the work going on. Business has seemed way slower since it started a few months ago. … We have regulars, but the new customers who have never been here don’t want to drive through all of the traffic and the gravel to get here.”
W. Colorado Avenue and Manitou Avenue between 31st Street and the U.S. 24 interchange
Laura Allen, booking and
Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort
(2 El Paso Blvd.)
“The detour is right in front of our hotel, so a lot more people are finding out where we are now — so that’s kind of a positive. … The construction is definitely annoying, but it has to happen; sometimes things have to explode before they get better. It’s created a little too much traffic and it’s hard to get in and out of the parking lot, but it’s also great exposure.”
At the intersection of N. Tejon Street and E. Boulder Street
Drew Johnson, barista/bartender
Wild Goose Meeting House (401 N. Tejon St.)
“It has been nominal, and we haven’t noticed it to the degree we expected. I honestly think that once people know that we’re still open, they find a way to get here. The regulars obviously find their way here. As far as big-picture business goes, it hasn’t been that bad. I think the most annoying thing is that we have to keep the garage doors closed because the machinery is so loud. … It’s all good.”
Young Ro, franchise owner
Phoenix Salon Suites (402 N. Tejon St.)
“Here in downtown [Colorado Springs], parking is a big issue. We have limited building parking here, so the street parking is very important to us. For the past three months we couldn’t use any of those parking spots. Now it’s all over and there is a very nice, new sidewalk and extra beautification with planters … but our handicap parking is gone, because they made a flower bed there. It’s definitely nice and looks nice, but we have a few handicapped clients … so that’s a disappointment. But overall, we’re happy that it’s done and looks nice. I didn’t hear much complaining from the other hairdressers. There is construction on the roads everywhere right now, but I think it will be good for the city — we just have to take it.”