Pensacola businesses continue to suffer with no end in sight to emergency repairs

The noise is getting louder and there’s no end in sight as emergency repairs continue on Pensacola Street.

It’s a necessary fix after nearly 50-year-old underground storm water drains were found in danger of collapsing.

The city initially said it would take “months” to complete the repairs.

It’s now been two months since construction began, and residents say the traffic is no better while businesses are hurting.

With traffic down to one lane at the end of Pensacola Street, drivers can get stuck waiting at the light.

Pedestrians also have a difficult time, since the city blocked off the sidewalk for repair work.

Meanwhile, businesses are getting desperate.

“It’s not doing any good. Even customers, they come in and say, ‘Business must suck.’ I say, well, I have to agree with you,” said Stephen Earhardt with Menya Musashi Ramen.

Customer Ko Kuroda stopped by during his lunch break with friends.

“The last few weeks, the signs for no parking have been bothering me. I know it’s killing their business too,” Kuroda said. “It’s like a three to five minutes walk (for me). Then we pay extra parking. I know lots of people won’t even go through that problem.”

Earhardt says the restaurant used to get an average of 100 customers during lunch or dinner hours, but “with this construction, our usual average now is 30.”

Like other businesses, Menya has resorted to things like offering new takeout options to drum up more traffic.

As business plummets, retailers and customers wonder about the construction.

“I never know what they’re doing. I always ask them, ‘Hey what are you guys doing right now?’ ‘Oh, we can’t tell you,'” Earhardt said. “Sometimes they’ll be across the street diving into sewers.”

“Sometimes it feels like it’s been taking forever. They don’t let you know how long. It’s agony,” Kuroda said. He suggested work be done at “night time, if that’s an option, so that it won’t hurt business.”

When asked about possibly moving work hours, a city spokesman replied that work is finished by 3:30 p.m. and a noise variance permit for night work wasn’t requested because it’s a residential area.

As for what exactly is being done, crews are installing hundreds of jacks underneath the road to stabilize it.

Repair work will take several months to complete, and the city does not have an updated estimate on when that work will be finished.

Despite all the headaches, this is still just a temporary fix. The city says a future project will be planned for a more permanent solution.

Photo provided by the City and County of Honolulu

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