Street project frustrates Galveston store owners

GALVESTON, TX The construction is happening on two very busy streets in Galveston. Both 21st and 23rd streets are getting new pavement between Harborside Drive and Broadway.

While it's certainly a welcome improvement, some businesses think the timing could have been a little better.

The Star Drug Store is known for its great lunchtime food, but this week it hasn't been easy to get to.

"Ideally the timing is off for us as merchants," said Natili Monsrud of Star Drug Store.

In fact, they closed their doors on Wednesday because the road construction was going on right in front of their doors, blocking already limited street parking.

"We just felt with the trucks and the lack of parking and the dust and the noise and the smell, it was probably best for our patrons not to have to endure that," said Monsrud.

Star Drug Store isn't the only business affected. At Fit to Run, a specialty athletic store, owner Kimberly Bachmeier says sales are one third of what they usually are.

"I can't say that the construction is the main cause of it. But it certainly isn't helping our business at all," said Bachmeier. "I'm glad that they're repaving. We really, really needed it. It's really overdue. But I don't think there was a lot of forethought to the timing of it. I think they probably could have waited until after the Christmas shopping season."

The repaving project was supposed to happen two years ago, but then Hurricane Ike hit. The money got diverted and only recently did the city have the money to do it.

"This is federal stimulus money which has a timed deadline on it. So we bid this out several months ago and this was the time that the contractor could get started," said Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski.

Still, with a rough economy and the Christmas season, merchants argued the timing was bad. So the city has shifted the work to a part of 23rd with virtually no business. The city says it won't do any work on the December 23 or Christmas Eve, a day Star Drug Store is actually open for business to make up for what it lost earlier this week.

"Another hindrance during this time is a little bit heartbreaking, but at the same time we welcome to have the streets redone," said Monsrud.

The mayor says this is just the beginning of the road improvements on the island. He says there is roughly $17 million worth of work that'll take place between Mardi Gras in February and the end of 2011.

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