Construction Project Causing Problems For Business Owners

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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Monday, July 30, 2012

It might seem like almost every week we're warning you about a new construction project starting up in Wichita. But Monday, we checked back in on a project in south Wichita where business owners tell us the road closures and traffic congestion are driving potential customers away.

Crews have been working on south Seneca from Interstate 235 to 31st Street since March to make Seneca a five-lane road and add a traffic light at the Seneca and 34th intersection.

We spoke with one of the city's senior engineers and he tells us when the project is finished, south Seneca will be much safer for drivers. But he told us before things get better, they have to get worse.

Since 1986, south Seneca Car Care has sat on the corner of Seneca and 31st.

“I've been here from day one,” Owner Coleen Suffield said.

In that time, Suffield says her business has found itself in the middle of three major construction projects.

“This one by far seems to be hurting me the most,” Suffield said.

Suffield tells us since the project first started back in March, all the driveways into her business have been closed at one time. She says the confusion can scare off potential customers.

“Where they'd close down one and open another you really can't see it until you're already past it and then by that time an individual really just wants to get out of the area,” Suffield said.

Across the street, Brian Krehbiel is putting the finishing touches on his personal gym's new location. The grand opening is in just a few days but the entrance off Seneca closed.

“My clients don't mind driving but if they get lost and can't get in that could be a real problem,” Krehbiel said.

The business owners we spoke with tell us they are actually looking forward to improvements on South Seneca but until the project is finished, they are getting creative to try to draw in business. Krehbiel has a few plans to help clients know how to find him.

“We're going to put some signs out in the areas even where they're blocked off,” Krehbiel said.

And Suffield says she's willing to offer deep discounts to make it worth customer's while to brave the construction area around her repair shop.

“OK, we need to do something. We need to do something now to get that traffic in, let them know we're here,” Suffield said.

The senior engineer we spoke with told us the project is on schedule and should be finished by December of this year.

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