Omia’s Restaurante is quiet on a Monday morning. One waitress waits on the entire restaurant. She fills, and refills, the coffee mugs of six construction workers.
Feras Almsrawa, the manager of the Sterling restaurant, said he has noticed a dramatic drop in the number of customers he serves since construction began on the Sterling Boulevard Interchange, or Route 28.
"We’ve lost about 20 percent of our customers," he said.
Commuters can not access West Church Road from Route 28. It makes it difficult for commuters to drop by and pick up a cup of coffee.
"We’re not convenient anymore," Almsrawa said.
Before road construction began, the restaurant manager said he waited on customers who saw their sign from Route 28. Now, his former customers can’t get figure out how to get to the restaurant.
"We’ve lost the older crowd, too," he said. "They want to get somewhere easy. It’s hard for them to get in and out of here."
OMIA’S RESTAURANTE is one of a dozen "mom and pop" shops that make up Sterling Village Center located off of Route 28 in Sterling.
Next door to the restaurant, Chien and David Sun worry about the amount of money their convenient store is losing since construction began on Route 28 last year. The Suns bought In and Out Market five years ago from a private land owner.
"Nobody said Cedar Green Road would be closed," Chien Sun said. "If they close that road, we will become like an island. Nobody in Ashburn will be able to get to us."
Since construction began, the Suns said they’ve lost one third of their business.
"That’s about $800 a day, $3,000 a month," Chien Sun said. "That’s a lot of money we are losing."
SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, VDOT delayed the opening of the interchange due to safety concerns from local businesses along Cedar Green Road.
Sen. Mark Herring (D-33) and Del. David Poisson (D-32) announced the decision to keep Cedar Green Road open last month. The decision was based on safety concerns and the effects the closure would have on small businesses located there.
Poisson said he is concerned for his constituents’ safety. If Cedar Green Road is closed, hundreds of business workers and their customers’ lives are in danger, in the event of an emergency, he said.
"The other ways into this area, if there were a fire or medical emergency, are completely inadequate," Poisson said.
VDOT hired an independent study group to conduct three studies on Cedar Green Road, accessing traffic safety over the next few months. The first study will examine Cedar Green Road's right-out access point. The second will study the right-in access point from Route 28 to Cedar Green Road. The third study is already in process. VDOT hired an independent study group to come up with affordable accessibility options.
VDOT district manager Dennis Morrison said Cedar Green Road was scheduled to close this fall.
"This has been in the making a long time," he said.
When Route 28 was built, Cedar Green Road was intended to become a limited access roadway. So, the plan was to remove street lights and intersections along the highway, in order to discourage everyday traffic flow.
"Route 28 is a heavily used corridor," Morrison said. "It carries so much traffic. We needed to handle it someway."
EVEN THOUGH THE Suns were informed about the potential closure of Cedar Green Road when they purchased their store from a private land owner, they said VDOT never said, for certain, it would happen.
"We hope the road stays open," David Sun said. "We’re already losing business from the other road closures and construction. We can’t afford to lose more money."
Chien Sun said that without easy access to and from the new interchange, their business will continue to suffer.
"There is no 100 percent guarantee closing the road will eliminate accidents," Chien Sun said. "There’s got to be another way because we are losing business."
THE STERLING BOULEVARD Interchange opened two weeks ago, as requested by the Board of Supervisors at their bimonthly meeting, as the discussion over Cedar Green Road continues.
Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) said the road should be closed, but he was open to permitting limited access to the road for public-safety vehicles.