Cornelius businesses struggling with construction work

by: Tina Terry Updated:

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CORNELIUS - Construction is causing major traffic problems off the Catawba Avenue exit on Interstate 77.

The project isn’t just tying up traffic; it’s also keeping customers from visiting local businesses.

A local business owner told Eyewitness News about her struggles, and how Cornelius leaders are stepping in.

Channel 9 captured empty parking lots at lunch time spots on Friday. Business owners said it would normally be packed.

“We did not expect it to impact us as greatly as it has,” said owner Jennefer Powers.

Powers owns a Subway restaurant. She said it has seen a 40 percent drop in business since the Department of Transportation started construction on a new diverging diamond intersection at exit 28.

“It’s the beginning of lunch and my dining room is empty because people don’t want to come in, people don’t want to sit in the traffic,” Powers said.

Bill Russell with Lake Norman’s Chamber of Commerce has spent the week traveling to more than 100 businesses up and down the corridor. He wants them to know relief is on the way.

“The second week of September we’ll get another lane eastbound opened up and the second week of October we’ll open up a lane that’s going to be westbound,” Russell said.

In the meantime, he’s urging drivers to sacrifice for businesses that are struggling.

“One of the things we want to impress is some of the businesses may not be able to survive,” Russell said.

Town leaders met with DOT officials last week, asking them how much it would cost to speed up construction.

Russell suggested it could cost millions of dollars to speed the project up by only a few weeks. Town leaders will have to decide if the cost is worth it.