ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s construction chaos for business owners along Haines Road between 54th Avenue and 62nd Avenue North in St. Petersburg.
Multiple business owners along the strip say road work that began back in October may force them to shut their doors. They say the road work is hitting them where it hurts. When they didn’t receive any response from Pinellas County, they called 8 On Your Side.
A spokesperson for the Pinellas County Department of Public Works said this is a miscommunication. That miscommunication has left these business owners with hardly any customers.
Customers are hard to come by at the Haines Road Thrift Shop these days. Owner Mary Lee called 8 On Your Side looking for answers.
“Some days I’m not even making $15,” she said. Lee said she previously made around $250 per day.
She opened the store seven years ago and is now afraid she’ll be forced to close it. “We’re having a hard time paying electric bills and putting food on our table,” Lee said, fighting back the tears.
In September the county gave business owners in the construction zone letters alerting them to the construction. Officials said then both lanes of Haines Road would remain open. County officials now say that wasn’t the plan. The plan was always for one lane to close, which is what happened, they said.
“I’ve done everything I can,” Lee told 8 On Your Side. “I’ve put 25 percent off, 50 percent off, and it’s not even bringing them in because they can’t get here. Do you know what? I’m 56 years old. I’ve never not been able to support my son.”
8 On Your Side took this matter to the county. “We realize that there was some miscommunication … to the public and are taking corrective actions … We are currently evaluating the maintenance of traffic plan to determine if there are any possible modifications that can be made to provide better long-term access during this project,” an official said.
Lee said that’s unacceptable. “They did not say that. They lied,” she said.
Lee said the county’s promise to work with business owners it too little – too late. “I don’t know where we’re going to go,” she said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Business owners told News Channel 8 the future looks bleak.
Here is the full statement from a spokesperson from the Pinellas County Department of Public Works:
“We realize that there was some miscommunication relative to the Maintenance of Traffic Plan that was communicated to the public and are taking corrective actions. The construction plans that were developed by our consultant have always shown a detour for northbound traffic and one way southbound traffic along Haines Road. It was inadvertently communicated that two-way traffic would be maintained throughout the construction project and as a result we are contacting the affected businesses to address their concerns.
The limited right-of-way does not provide enough room along the roadway to maintain two-way traffic and still provide enough room to safely construct the improvements. We are currently evaluating the Maintenance of Traffic plan to determine if there are any possible modifications that can be made to provide better long-term access during this project.
All the businesses will still maintain their driveway access along Haines Road throughout the project and we will provide adequate notification and coordination when there are impacts to a property owner’s frontage.
The construction project will ultimately benefit everyone in the surrounding area by providing an improved roadway, improved drainage, improved safety for motorists and improved access to businesses.”