How construction is impacting Denton businesses and residents

How construction is impacting Denton businesses and residents

How construction is impacting Denton businesses and residents
July 08
14:09 2017

Construction projects in Denton have been an ongoing process for years, and some are concerned it’s beginning to hurt businesses, students and residents.

Various parts of University Drive have been under construction for a few years now and in some areas is narrowed down to two lanes. The 35Express Project has been underway since 2013 and brings traffic to a standstill daily. Hickory Street, Bell Avenue and Bonnie Brae are all currently under construction, and drivers often take detours due to it.

Robert Tompkins is the assistant manager at the Denton Corner Bakery Cafe, located right off of I-35, and said he’s felt the impact of construction at his business.

“I would say that there is a difference [in business after construction], because when we first opened, we were doing almost like $8,000 a day, and now, we’re only doing $3,000,” Tompkins said. “We opened about two years ago, right when they started that construction. It’s just one of those things.”

Many underpasses on I-35 have been closed off for months, and some of the business located directly off of the interstate say they’ve seen considerable differences in their amount of daily customers.

“I feel like it definitely does slow down traffic,” kinesiology senior Sergio Simmons said. “I was in a car accident last October, but even when I did have a car, I feel like construction slowed everything down.”

Walter Floers is the manager at the Mexican restaurant El Fenix, located off of I-35 and loop 288, and said he’s seen a difference of “maybe 100 people” a day due to the effects of nearby construction.

“When they close the exit, it completely affects our business,” Floers said. “And when they’re working on the [service road], it affects us.”

Even large chains have not been immune to the effects of the construction in Denton. The 7-Eleven located at I-35 and McCormick Street has been hugely impacted by construction, according to Shirley Stewart, a sales associate who has worked at the location since before the nearby underpass was closed off.

Stewart said before the underpass was closed, they would routinely see 300 customers during the morning shift. After, however, that number is usually around 25.

Galen Gillum is the director of capital projects for the city of Denton, and has been at that position since February. Gillum coordinates and manages many of the cities’ construction projects.

“We realize we disrupt people’s lives, their driveways, their access to business,” Gillum said. “They have to be patient and realize we’re trying to get a good product at the end – smooth road and safe sidewalks, and nice curbs and gutters and all that.”

Business both off of University Drive and I-35 routinely have construction limit people’s access, but Gillum said many of those issues are handled by the construction crews themselves.

“During construction, not a lot of complaints come up to my office,” Gillum said. “That lets me know that managers and supervisors below me are handling those issues in the field, and the complaints don’t get elevated to me.”

Despite numerous accounts of businesses suffering, public information manager for the 35Express Project, C.J. Schexnayder, says he hasn’t seen it.

“Since the project is nearly completed, we haven’t seen much recent effect on businesses,” Schexnayder said. “We only do construction overnight, so that’s one way we make this as seamless a process for businesses as we can.”

The cost of these projects are also of note. Mayhill Road, just east of Loop 288, will cost approximately $52 million to increase the amount of lanes by two for each direction. A bridge over Cooper Creek and Pecas Creek is also part of the project, and has an estimated completion date of March, 2020.

More projects are still currently underway in the city, with others are still planned for the future, costing millions of dollars. Gillum said there are quite a few different sources for funding these projects.

“Some city budget money goes to repair roads. Another major source for repairing roads are bonds,” Gillum said. “[Bonds are] kind of like financing a car, or financing a house. Sometimes we get money from the state. The more complicated money we get, which is sometimes substantial, is RTR, which is regional toll revenues, from the toll roads that are in the county.”

Construction in Denton has been going on long enough that for some Denton residents, that’s all they’ve ever known. And with the projected completion dates and future projects planned, that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.

“It’s made it a little bit hard to get around the city of Denton,” said Computer Science Senior Mitchell Pavel. “I’m from Plano, so I drive here pretty frequently, so it’s a problem when I’m coming to and from school.”

Featured Image: Construction takes place on I-35. The construction has affected businesses located on Avenue C because the road work has blocked off the street from I-35. Amber Nasser

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Alexander Willis

Alexander Willis

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