Businesses suffering through Chinatown road project

Road work in Chinatown

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Tensions are high in Chinatown as cars back up and drivers try to navigate along North King Street.

It’s all part of a $5.5 million project to install concrete bus pads and repave the roadway.

The work is forcing cars to merge down to one lane through the busy stretch, but if you think drivers have it bad, just ask the businesses.

“Usually, four to five tables full. Now, as you see, no customers at all,” The Corner Cafe and Bar owner John Moore said.

The Corner Cafe and Bar was empty during the lunch-hour rush and it’s been that way for months.

“Not busy. People don’t come out already,” Eastern Food Center owner Stephen Chan said.

Chan is also feeling it. After 20 years in business, it’s his worst year yet. Profits are down 40 percent.

“Even lunch time now, empty. This has been going on a few months, so how much can you take?” Chinatown Business and Community Association President Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock said.

Nearby shops have even had to downsize.

“Now, we have fewer employees because not as busy now,” Helen & David’s Jewelry employee Sandy Ng said.

Helen & David’s Jewelry let go three employees — business has been that bad.

“Slowed down business a lot. Parking is really hard people have to commute and wait in traffic for a half hour or more than they usually would, so avoid area,” Ng said.

“Were businesses considered when this project went to bid?” KHON2 asked.

“We knew they would be affected. Yes, I’ve talked to others not much we could do. We tried to minimize the impact as far as finishing the work along businesses as quick as possible,” Department of Design and Construction Director Chris Takashige said.

It’s almost done. This two-year project has two more months to go until the city calls it a wrap.

“Be patient with us for another month or so and have a new road that will last you for the rest of your business,” Takashige said.

The city was getting so many calls, it has set up a complaint line for English and Chinese speakers.

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