Washington County VA

Business owners: Road construction driving away customers

TN-36 widening project extended until December 2014

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - Drivers who travel Tennessee State Highway 36 in Washington County continue to experience traffic delays as the Department of Transportation works to widen that busy road.

As we found out Monday, it's not the delays that are bothering business owners along the stretch -- it's the fact that some people are avoiding the road altogether.

The roar of dump trucks and the sight of long lines of stalled traffic is something Our House Restaurant owner Angie Tolley has been forced to get used to since she and her husband opened their Boones Creek eatery last August.

Construction involved with the widening of State Route 36 continues to take a big bite out of her dining business. "The construction has severely affected us. We have been unable to put up a sign, and we have limited visibility anyway from the road. It changes every day, and it deters a lot of customers just because they avoid it," she said.

With many cars steering around and avoiding the four-mile work zone, Shannon Stoots says they're also steering around his auto repair business, Stoots Auto Repair. "It's affected our business a lot, especially the last winter. A lot of people were avoiding the area. It's really affected our sales and service as well," he said.

Though it's rocking a lot of businesses, Mark Nagi with TDOT says workers are making good progress and construction is barreling right along. "The contractor is continuing the projects right now. There are utility relocations going on throughout the project, and grading operations are continuing as well as weather permits," he said.

But Nagi went on to tell us the project was recently given a three-month contract extension. "We're looking at December 15, 2014. That is the due date for a completion of this project," he said.

Now with the contract extension, construction is expected to take a little longer than was first anticipated; but business owners tell us they're just looking forward to the day when the finished project intersects with more business for them. "I'm sure it'll be a lot nicer when they get it finished," Shannon Stoots said. "It'll be great, but it's just a matter of trying to survive until then."

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