Downtown businesses hopeful after construction project ends

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - There hasn't been a lot of laughing at "In Stitches" in downtown Johnson City over the past four months.

That's because the sewing studio's front entrance was blocked by construction.

"It's mostly mothers and grandmothers that come and the mothers either want to learn how to sew or they know somewhat about sewing," said Merleen Darby, who works at In Stitches.

Darby tells News that when construction began on the 400 block of South Roan Street their regular customers kept coming but the foot-traffic slowed down drastically.

"It was very hard for a while, because a lot people don't exactly know who is downtown," said Darby.

We discovered the project started when the city announced a major utilities upgrade to its sewer system, power and phone lines.

We learned the project was supposed to be completed in October, but a water main break and weather-related problems prolonged the eyesore in the center of downtown.

Timmy Norman owns cakes buds and tells us that he relied on phone and online orders to help keep his bakery going, because few people were coming downtown.

"Some people feel like they shouldn't be where construction is," Norman said. "They fear coming downtown with the construction there. They would call in advance asking, can we get to you? Yea, you'll have to walk around few road cones."

Unlike Norman's neighbors, he has no back door entrance.

"During the construction we had no access other than our foot-traffic," said Norman.

The city upgraded the sidewalk and cross-walks around the block.

Norman tells News 5 that on Friday, he walked out and saw traffic and knew the construction was over. Now, he says, new and old customers are already stopping by.

"Everything came out looking great, so it's really helped to get people down here and we have foot traffic coming back," said Norman.

We did some checking and found out construction around Johnson City is not over yet.
Here's a list of projects you can expect in the coming week:
This information is from the City of Johnson City's website:

Public Works projects
• Broadway Street and East Main Street – intersection upgrades. Motorists are asked to use caution in this area.

Water and Sewer Services projects
• Althea Street – water line replacement; lane closures
• Skyline Drive (from State of Franklin Road to Knob Creek Road) – water line replacement
• Broadway and Main streets – sewer line maintenance
• Lauderdale – water line casing
• State of Franklin Road and West Walnut Street – fire hydrant installation
• Boone Ridge Drive – sewer line extension
• Scenic Drive – water line replacement; lane closures

TDOT projects
• State Route 36/North Roan Street (between SR 354 and SR 75) – sewer and water line replacement; motorists should be alert for new traffic patterns and lane shifts; temporary lane closures; motorists are asked to use extreme caution in this area and expect potential delays.

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