After a winter respite, sewer-line installation along Providence’s Hope Street has returned, along with traffic detours, parking woes and inconveniences to pedestrians, all of which are causing disruptions and headaches for the area’s small businesses.
The construction, part of the final stretch of the Narragansett Bay Commission’s Combined Sewer Overflow project, has been ongoing for about 18 months, according to Jamie Samons, public-affairs manager for the commission. She said construction is expected to last until July, as workers rebuild the street’s concrete base and begin repaving.
For Bob D’Ambra, the owner of D’Ambra Service Station on Hope Street, that means fewer customers.
He said that since construction has picked back up, his usual steady flow of customers has declined.
“It has affected business quite a bit,” he said. “Especially for gas sales, because it makes it very difficult for people to get in and out.”
Due to the project, traffic on parts of Hope Street is one-way only. In addition, street parking is tougher than usual to find and concrete barriers in some spots force pedestrians to walk a couple blocks before they’re able to cross the street.
D’Ambra said the situation is something his business will just have to ride out during the next few months.
“I can’t see what I can do about it,” he said. “I have no control.”
Caryn Guadagnoli, the owner of Po Chue’s Fitting Room, a shop located on nearby Burlington Street, said she’s resorted to altering her workweek to keep business going in spite of the circumstances.
She said that many of her customers have been deterred by the lack of parking. To make things easier, she’s been keeping her shop open later during weekdays and has added weekend hours. Sometimes, she even makes house calls.
“It’s really changed the structure,” said Guadagnoli, who has been in business for about 30 years.
Her Burlington Street neighbor, Denise Parrillo, who owns Poochies, A Pet Salon, with her husband, Bill, said she recently put a sign up for customers thanking them for their continued patronage as the construction continues.
Parrillo said because most of her clients are simply dropping off or picking up their pets, the construction hasn’t really affected her business. But she has noticed that a lot of normally busy businesses on Hope Street, particularly some of the lunch spots, haven’t been too busy lately.
While a decline in business does have merchants worried, some are also peeved about the lack of direct communication from the Narragansett Bay Commission about the construction schedule.