• Blue Line extension creates growing pains for businesses

    By: Scott Wickersham


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - As work on the Blue Line extension in north Charlotte intensifies, some business owners say they feel blocked off by backhoes and construction barrels.
    The start of 3 ½ years of construction has begun to widen roadways, lay the tracks and let the trains roll, and some local businesses are feeling Charlotte's growing pains more than others.
    Joel Wommack said The Last Word Bookstore has lost power a few times because of it.
    Some said workers block off and park in many of the spaces in their lot.
    “There’s nowhere to park. It’s a hassle,” said Tryon Wilkins, a shopper.
    A few miles down the road a pet shop called The Last Place on Earth is the last place shoppers might think to look -- hidden behind barrels, piles of dirt and construction equipment.
    “We’ve been here 32 years,” said owner Sara Edwards, who said she has also lost parking spaces.

    However, her regulars are still coming, and she hopes the finished train will bring more.
    “When it does three years from now, the overall affect will be awesome,” she said.
    While showing off its early work Thursday, Charlotte Area Transit System acknowledged the mess is not ideal and said it created a liaison just to work with North Tryon Street businesses.
     "We’ve been to 60 businesses. Created temporary signage for those who had to move theirs and open-for-business signs,” said Judy Kellert-O’Keef, with CATS.
    Some businesses said CATS has been helpful and construction workers have been courteous.
    They're just trying to be patient.
    One restaurant manager said the construction is short-term pain for a long-term gain.

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