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May 8, 2014
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Businesses fighting through construction pains

Road construction on Kingsbury Grade is negatively impacting several nearby businesses, which claim traffic delays and signs of road closure are scaring customers away.

In some cases, managers and owners reported a 40 to 50 percent reduction in business as a result of the roadwork.

“It has a huge effect on our business,” said Judy Alvis, manager of the Red Hut Café on Kingsbury, who reported that construction has cut the number of customers coming into the restaurant by half. “It makes it hard for people to turn in and get out, so they don’t even come in.”

The Kingsbury Grade Pavement Reconstruction Project, which involves repaving and upgrading about four miles of road, officially began May 1 with a closure placed at the top of Daggett Summit.

According to a variety of restaurants and retailers, it has so far proven to be bad for business.

“We have two tables in here now,” Alvis said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s usually full right now for lunch.”

The Nevada Department of Transportation has taken several steps to ensure that people know businesses are open along the effected section of Kingsbury Grade, spokesperson Meg Ragonese said.

Among other things, it has held forums on the project, created a website for the project and put up road signs informing motorists that businesses are open in the area.

“Since the inception of the project, we’ve worked close with stakeholders and businesses to make sure their concerns were heard,” Ragonese said.

NDOT understands that infrastructure projects — such as the Kingsbury Grade project — will have some impacts on residents and businesses, Ragonese said, but the improvements leave the region with a better product for the future.

However, some businesses, such as the Chart House on Kingsbury, are feeling the effects of construction now.

Chart House manager Corinne Best said the business has experienced about a 40 percent decline in customers since roadwork began. Happy hour, specifically, has become a much quieter event.

“Our happy hour used to be off the hook. Now it’s not even close,” she said Wednesday, adding that the number of tables occupied during happy hour went from about 20 or more to about four or five.

Best said she believes many people see the road closure sign near Highway 50 and think they can’t drive up, despite signs informing motorists that businesses are open.

“It’s been a little rough,” she said. “Because the road says it’s closed at the bottom, people just turn around and leave.”

Epiphany Fine Jewelry & Design, also on Kingsbury, reported Wednesday that not a single customer had come into the store in nine days. Owner Pamela Crowell contributed the slow period to a mix of roadwork and a typical dip in business during the “shoulder season.”

She said she expects business will pick up after Memorial Day, when construction moves from a 24/7 schedule to a night-work-only schedule. But by that point, Crowell said she would have to rebuild her clientele.

“It’s like starting a new business,” she said. “You have to do something exciting to get them back here again.”

The reconstruction of Kingsbury is expected to take between a year and a year and half to complete. In the meantime, Crowell said she’s doing whatever she can to keep her customers happy.

“I know it needs to be done,” she said of the construction, “so it’s going to hit us one way or the other.”


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated May 11, 2014 01:28PM Published May 14, 2014 03:41PM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.