Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Widening Work on Wells Road Is Finally Over

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Widening Work on Wells Road Is Finally Over

Article excerpt

It's not quite business as usual on Wells Road. But it's getting there.

Merchants say they see the light at the end of a long tunnel now that a major road-widening job has ended after months of heavy construction caused many motorists and shoppers to avoid Wells Road.

"The past two weeks, it [business] has slowly started to come up," Marc Jernigan, part owner of Schlotzsky's Deli at 1711 Wells Road, said Friday. "I cannot tell you how many times people said `if it was not for this construction, we would be here more often.'

"We're nowhere near where we were before the road started. But it is gradually increasing now."

Milestone Co., the prime contractor hired by the Clay County Commission to add turn lanes and widen the existing four lanes, put down the last layer of asphalt Thursday -- six days after an April 30 deadline.

All four lanes -- two westbound and two eastbound -- finally were open at the same time.

Kevin Boyett, manager of the Steak 'N Shake at the corner of Wells and DeBarry Avenue, said completion of the road should boost business along the commercial corridor "as long as the traffic starts flowing again."

"I know we're not as bad off as some of the other restaurants, but we did lose some business," said Boyett, who said he's been managing the Steak 'N Shake almost since it opened two years ago.

"It's been horrible," he said. "We have our regular customers that live in the area that continue to come in, though. They fight the traffic."

As an example of the difficulty driving on Wells Road, Boyett said he got stuck in heavy traffic about a week ago and would have been better off walking.

"I had to go down the street for something and to talk with someone at Cheers," he said. "It's only a quarter of a mile at the most, and it took me 17 minutes to get back to my restaurant. They had one of the lanes blocked off."

Revenue at his restaurant was "probably down 15 to 20 percent over last year," Boyett said, adding that he attributed every bit of the decline to the road construction.

But he was optimistic about the future, saying that by the end of this year he "should be up 2 to 5 percent over last year. …

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