Light Rail Construction Disrupts Merchants Along Route!

Along Link route, merchants feeling pinch

LIGHT-RAIL LINE: Foot traffic is down as customers avoid construction activity

February 07, 2002

Jason Hagey; The News Tribune


Gregg Taylor estimates his walk-in business is down 40 percent at his powder-coating company on South 25th Street.


Like many business owners flanking the path of downtown Tacoma's future light-rail line, Gregg Taylor says Tacoma Link will be a nice addition to the city.


"But I have to live to see it," he said.


Construction of the 1.6-mile light-rail line has severely restricted access to Taylor's powder-coating business on South 25th Street near Pacific Avenue. Taylor estimates he's lost 40 percent of his walk-in business and he's negotiating a second mortgage on his house to keep his business going.


All along the route, business owners on 25th Street are similarly complaining about money they've lost because of the construction. Those on Pacific Avenue, where work began this week, are worrying about money they expect to lose when construction reaches their doorsteps.


"They're killing us," said Eric Lindley, manager of the Elephant Car Wash across the street from Taylor's business.


"It's tough," said John Hubert, manager of Harmon Brewing Co. on Pacific Avenue near South 21st Street. "It's completely dead right now compared to what it normally would be."


And that's with the bulk of the construction still a couple of blocks from his door.


A few doors down, the owner of The Connoisseur Shop, a gift and greeting card store, is bracing for hard times.


"We've had the gas company for a week, now we have the asphalt layers," Ruth Swanson said, looking out the window at the construction. "In March, the tracks come." Swanson said she moved to her Pacific Avenue location about a year ago after 52 years in the Stadium District. She has no choice but to stay put now and hope she survives.

She's already planning a half-price sale to bring in foot traffic.


"I haven't put a penny in my till all day," she said.


Sound Transit doesn't deny the construction causes some problems. But spokesman Lee Somerstein said the agency is doing everything it can to help business owners. That includes holding regular construction updates, handing out fliers and posting signs telling motorists that businesses are still open during the construction. Sound Transit also is talking with the Dome District, a coalition of business owners, about an advertising campaign to spread the word that businesses are still open. "We want to help them through this crunch time so they're around and in good shape when it's over," said Don Atkinson of the Dome District.


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