Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

January 30, 2013

Construction project has trickle-down effect on workers

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Construction on Seventh Avenue is affecting more than drivers through Corsicana, it’s also impacting the bottom line for a series of businesses and their employees.

La Pradera, at 1401 W. Seventh, stopped serving breakfast entirely until the construction is past, according to Manager Ana Cazares.

“It’s hard for people to come through or deal with the traffic,” she said. “Some customers don’t know about the back road that leads to us, or if they can use it.”

Because of the reduced number of customers, La Pradera had to cut back on wait staff, and those who were kept on have reduced hours.

“The ones that did stay for as little hours we could give them, some are only coming in and working two or three hours a day, so that’s impacting their pockets as well,” Cazares said.

The impact on hourly workers is a common refrain up and down the street as construction has reduced access to a variety of small businesses in the area of 20th Street.

The Taco Shop has had to cut back on hourly workers, also, according to owner Roger Tarvin.

“At least we have a way in and out on Seventh Avenue,” he said. “But it’s really hurting us to have this construction going on right now. It’s hurting business tremendously. I’m down a good 30 percent from what I was doing.”

There is access to the businesses, it’s just more limited, according to Darwin Myers, area engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Part of the project is to maintain access to Highway 31. It’s not going to be as wide as the driveway they had before, but it’s part of our project that we do maintain access to 31,” Myers said. “That’s what we’re responsible to do, and I believe we’ve done that.”

Pouring the concrete along that stretch of road is about two weeks away, Myers stated. The hot mix should be this week, followed by concrete work, then driveways and curbs.

“Mid-March would be a good estimate to have the south side of SH 31 complete at 20th Street,” he said.

That can’t come soon enough for the workers at Nail 2, 1399 W. Seventh.

“It’s pretty bad,” said Anthony Vo, who owns the nail salon. “We’ve had a 65 or 70 percent drop. There’s a way to get in, but it’s very hard. There are a few that tried to come in and they just canceled their appointments.”

The construction is just beyond Today Homes, but even that business is being affected, according to Kristen McCoy, business manager. Instead of dealing with the half-drive that is now South 20th Street, drivers are using Today Homes’ driveway as a road.

“More than anything, the problem has been that people are cutting through our parking lot and not watching their speed and it’s dangerous,” McCoy said. “It’s a problem.”

Today Homes called the police for help and officers have spent some mornings and afternoons warning the short-cut artists not to use a private drive that way.

“When we’ve called the city or the highway department, they’ve worked with us,” McCoy said, adding: “The part of Seventh Avenue they’ve finished is really nice. It will be nice when it’s all done. We just have to live with it until it’s done.”

Several other businesses contacted also experienced frustration and reduced business that they laid at the feet of the construction project. The project is a multi-year effort to fix the drainage problems along Highway 31 as it comes through Corsicana. When completed, the street will be concrete and curbed, sitting above huge culverts underneath that will be able to better handle the amounts of rain that rush towards the low spots not only from Seventh Avenue, but from all the side streets, as well.

For now, though, it’s a block-by-block process of tearing up before building back. And the impact is selective. People who really need to get to certain businesses aren’t letting the work stop them.

EZ Money Loan Services, 1421 West Seventh Avenue, right in the heart of the worst of the construction right now, hasn’t really seen any change in business, according to CSR Jennifer Vasquez.

“They’re making it here one way or another,” she said. “We’re actually doing pretty good. You have people complain about it, but actually our business is pretty good.”

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com