I-70B interchange construction project affects some businesses

E&E Door and Window at I-70 Business Loop and 29 Road is close to the 29 Road overpass under construction. Most nearby business owners say the project is kind of annoying but will be worth it for the finished product.

Getting to businesses north of Interstate 70 Business Loop near 29 Road has been a confusing venture for some customers since construction of an interchange began in the summer.

Blake Brueggeman, owner of Integrity Auto Repair at 2892 I-70B, said he has gotten so many questions about how to reach his business he now offers directions before he gets asked.

“I have a customer base just under 4,000 people, so I’m giving directions a lot,” Brueggeman said.

The interchange construction breaks up the frontage road on the north side of the business loop, sending motorists on side streets to reach businesses on the frontage road. Most customers can master the new route after one visit, Brueggeman said, but some give up trying. Brueggeman said the interchange will be an asset when it’s done, but since construction began, he estimates business at Integrity is down about 10 percent.

The construction also is hurting business at nearby Woodworkers of Grand Junction at 2906 I-70B. Woodworkers owner Brad Swenson said he is glad he doesn’t rely on “front door” traffic, or he believes he would be out of business.

The shop used to have access on the north, east and west sides, but is now limited to the west, and being so close to the eventual location of the overpass has created some problems for getting in and out of the site during construction, Swenson said.

“The access route has changed it seems from day to day,” he said.

Swenson said he wants people to know he’s still in business and plans to keep it that way. He said he considered moving to another location, but the cost of moving equipment, rewiring a new building and bringing it up to code for custom woodworking and cabinet-making would be pricey.

“I’m inclined to just stick it out here,” he said.

Nearly all of owner Tom Skubic’s customers at E&E Door & Window, 2898 I-70B, has made a comment about the difficulty of getting in and out of the area. But Skubic said the city of Grand Junction and Mesa County, partners in building the $19.3 million interchange, have obliged his requests for signs to help customers navigate around his business.

“So many of my neighbors are beating up the city and everybody else, but I’ve been through construction before, and there’s a price for progress,” Skubic said. “(Customers) get confused coming in, but what’s perfect when you’re under construction?”

Earlier this month the owners of Mohawk Floorz Direct, 2922 I-70B, shuttered their business. Co-owner Ronn Gookin said business had been good in 2009 despite the recession, but accessibility since the road construction began led to a 75 percent drop in revenue this year.

Gookin also said the city of Grand Junction and Mesa County didn’t help him much with signage, and Mohawk Floorz Direct is one of the most difficult businesses to access because it doesn’t have an obvious second entry point from a side street. For example, his next-door neighbor to the west, Carpetime, has an entrance from Morning Glory Lane, but its parking lot does not connect with Mohawk’s. People trying to take the frontage road to Mohawk were at times greeted with a sign saying the road is closed.

However, Mike Blackwelder Jr., president of Platinum Sign at 2916 I-70B, agreed with Skubic that the project managers have “been bending over backwards to help.”

“I think I’m willing to deal with the construction to get to the overall finished product,” Blackwelder said. “It’s been tough, but it’s going to be well worth it when it’s done.”

Al Ledebur, who works in sales at Carpetime, 2920 I-70B, said his business hasn’t changed much since construction began, except for the occasional inquiry about directions. He said the economy has affected his business more than construction.

“What’s impacted our business most is the housing industry. There’s nothing you can do to change that,” he said.

City Project Manager Paul Jagim said the interchange project is on schedule for a November 2011 finish. Construction of retaining walls will continue over the winter, and bridge girders will be fabricated beginning in December and installed next year, Jagim said.


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