lthough one restaurant off North Main Street in Franklin has decided to close during the ongoing road construction, a neighboring sub shop says the slowdown in business hasn’t been nearly as bad as anticipated.
Workers closed the street at the beginning of the month to finish the last phase of the reconstruction project between U.S. 31 and the post office. That cut off driveways to businesses near the highway, including several restaurants.
Like previous phases, foot traffic in and out of nearby businesses has slowed a bit. But the city has been keeping businesses informed about what’s happening and when and has provided alternate entrances so customers can still get in.
Construction on the last phase of the $4.7 million project between Graham Street and U.S. 31 should be complete by June.
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Businesses had plenty of warning about the projects, which has helped minimize the impact, Firehouse Subs owner Andy Gilliland said.
“We have had a slowdown. Not as bad as we thought it would be. We’re doing pretty good,” he said.
The city contacted businesses during the winter to inform them about what would happen in the spring, and project managers set up a detailed access plan so that all area businesses and residents would have at least one way in and out, Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said. For example, drivers can get into the strip mall that includes Domino’s, AT&T and Firehouse Subs from an entrance off U.S. 31 or from a back entrance if they turn at the Schoolhouse Road intersection.
Since Rally’s drive-thru restaurant’s entrance was on North Main Street and had an exit on U.S. 31, workers created a small access lane so people could reach the normal entrance, McGuinness said.
Rally’s, however, decided to close during the construction. Signs have been posted in the windows telling diners the fast-food stop is closed for construction and to look forward to a grand reopening.
Firehouse Subs has remained open, and while foot traffic is down a little, the company prepared by pushing its catering business and doing some increased marketing to keep people coming in during construction, Gilliland said. He declined to discuss how much business has dropped since construction started but said the extra catering business has helped reduce losses. He also put some signs up at the U.S. 31 entrance and at Schoolhouse Road to remind people they can still get to the restaurant.
“Just trying to do anything we can. It’s definitely hurting, but it’s not as bad as it could be. I think part of it is I’ve got a real good manager there, and he’s been getting out,” Gilliland said.
Foot traffic at Prime Communications AT&T store next door has dropped by about half since North Main Street was closed, but the cellphone shop doesn’t rely on a large amount of walk-in traffic, manager Chris Hahn said. On an average day, 15 to 30 people might walk in looking for help with their phones or new service. That’s dropped to about 10 to 15 people, Hahn said.
Most people who come into the strip mall usually enter from North Main Street, and the construction makes it difficult for people who are leaving and need to head south, he said. Hahn, who travels south to get home, said drivers have to go up to Schoolhouse Road and then make a U-turn at the intersection.
Once the project is wrapped up, nearby businesses will benefit from a new road, decorative features and better sidewalks, which can help bring in more customers, McGuinness said. Although the street is currently down to the dirt, businesses have to hold out only a little bit longer, he said.
“They’re working as fast as they possibly can. This isn’t the first go-round with North Main Street. Communication has obviously been key,” McGuinness said.
Construction workers are completing the last section of the North Main Street project in Franklin. Here’s the details about the project:
Under construction now: U.S. 31 to post office
Construction began: March 31
Estimated completion: June
Total project area: U.S. 31 to Graham Street intersection (area south of post office completed in 2014)
Cost: $4.7 million
What’s being done: Total road reconstruction, new sidewalks, underground utility improvements, decorative lighting and landscaping. Workers also built a roundabout to Oliver Avenue, Clark Street and Walnut Street intersection.