0
Votes

Businesses Cope with Maple Avenue Project

Although the parties involved may disagree on how close the Maple Avenue Enhancement Project is to completion, all agree that waiting for the project to finish has been a challenge for those confronting blocked lanes or slower business.

"I call it ‘Creative Driving 101,’" barber Milton Scalph said when asked about the traffic conditions on his stretch of 123. He works at the Clip and Style Barber Shop on Branch Road and Maple Avenue.

Project engineer Glen Bates said the street will be repaved and new traffic stripes will be painted in time for Vienna's Halloween Parade on Oct. 23.

Currently, because the project replaces existing sidewalks with brick, construction workers have removed the sidewalks, and their work has spilled onto the street. Outermost lanes have been blocked, and the median has disappeared, making left turns difficult, if not illegal.

Bates projected that the construction on the roads will be completed by the parade, while the sidewalks should be finished several weeks afterward.

"The project should be substantially complete by Nov. 10," and the sidewalks wrapped up by the end of November, Bates said.

But construction workers say the project will take longer to finish. Although he couldn't give a date, Imperial Construction overseer Antonio Barela said the sidewalks could take up to six months to complete, if crews took three months for each side of the street.

"It depends on how many people are working," Barela said.

REGARDLESS OF the actual completion date, businesses and commuters wait for the day when things will return to normal. Besides closed lanes, the absence of the median has been stressful for businesses and commuters alike.

"Just trying to cross the street, it's hard," said Chris Wilson, who's a driver for Domino's Pizza. "We see a lot of people trying to turn left, and when they do, it clogs up the street."

Cenan's Bakery Cafe manager Osman Soysalan agrees. He says his business has been severely hurt by the construction. He also says people should be allowed to turn left if it's non-rush hour. No-left-turn signs currently hang on the street signals.

"We've lost at least $10,000 in monthly reduced sales," Soysalan said, worried that his patrons will go elsewhere for freshly baked bread. "People cannot come in. We had lunch customers from car dealerships and Tysons Corner who can't turn left, even on Sundays."

While Soysalan's business has been very much affected by the construction, other businesses have been only somewhat affected. When the construction work closed the entrances to Jammin' Java, business was slow, but not terrible.

"I haven't seen too much of a drop. People made the effort to come here," Jammin' Java employee Karl Dalland said.

The Maple Avenue Enhancement Project is in its second phase. The first phase, between Lawyers Road and Park Street, was completed in 1998. The second phase started construction in late May of this year. It extends from Park Street to East Street. The cost for the second phase is $5.4 million.

According to the town's information officer, the completed project will have brick sidewalks on either side of Maple Avenue, brick crosswalks at all intersections, new curb and gutter, increased turning radii at intersections and driveway entrances, new asphalt pavement surfaces, improved street lighting with ornamental poles, shrubs and trees, benches and trash receptacles, and new bus shelters.