Businesses still struggling during Bluff Street project, hope customers will brave the construction

ST. GEORGE — Despite the heavy, months-long construction project in progress along Bluff Street, local business owners and operators want customers to know they are still open. And perhaps more important, they hope people will be willing to brave the construction to support them.

Cars drive by the construction zone on Bluff Street in St. George Thursday, March 22, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

The Bluff Street construction project, helmed by the Utah Department of Transportation, will widen the busy road between 100 South and Sunset Boulevard to three lanes in both directions and redesign the intersection at Sunset Boulevard. The project, which started in January, is scheduled to be finished by 2019.

See video in media player above for visual representation of project goals

So far, construction crews have torn out the westernmost lanes on Bluff Street. Soon, they will move construction to the other side of the street, UDOT communication manager Kevin Griffin said.

For customers of businesses along Bluff Street, understanding how to access the ever-changing entry ways to the businesses on the side of the street where construction is taking place can be difficult.

Kneaders Bakery and Cafe business operator Kathy Hansen cited an example from last week when a man leaving Kneaders accidentally drove into the construction site and into a ditch. Access points and entry ways to businesses along Bluff Street are “extremely confusing,” Hansen said. 

“All day long I get calls from people asking if we’re even open,” Hansen said. “There’s just this assumption that we’re not open because of the construction. And beyond that, there’s people who know we’re open, but they don’t want to deal with all the construction.”

Kneaders has experienced a 30 percent drop in sales since the construction project started, Hansen said. Similarly, Sue’s Pet Castle has seen a 25 percent loss, business owner Clay Russell said in March.

Once the construction project is completed, Griffin said business owners will be able to enjoy better access and an improved street outside their establishments. Griffin said he hopes businesses’ needs are still being met and addressed by UDOT during the construction period.

Top: The current configuration of the Bluff Street-Sunset Boulevard intersection. Bottom: The intersection configuration designed to help traffic flow access Sunset Boulevard much more easily as without as much traffic backup. | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News | Click image to enlarge

“I know a lot of the types of things we hear in virtually any construction project is ‘People can’t turn into our business,'” Griffin said.

To reduce the impact of the construction on businesses along Bluff Street, Griffin said UDOT made special blue signs to let customers know the businesses are still open, placed barrels at all of the entry ways so customers could see where to go, and managed dust control and noise.

The City of St. George also passed a temporary ordinance to allow businesses on Bluff Street to put up a 32-square-foot banner to indicate the business is still open. Mayor Jon Pike personally visited each and every business along Bluff Street to tell business owners about the temporary ordinance in March.

Read more: Mayor pledges city support for businesses struggling near Bluff Street construction

Besides asking customers to still patronize Kneaders during the construction period, there’s not much more Hansen can do besides hope they will start returning to Kneaders once the project is completed.

“Hopefully once the construction passes, Bluff will be more convenient to travel and people will return to their previous travel patterns,” she said, “and hopefully we’ll be able to regain our customers.”

In the end, the new and improved Bluff Street will be worth all of the inconvenience of the construction period, Griffin said.

“We’re not just rebuilding the road, we’re rebuilding infrastructure to go 40 years into the future that is beneath the road – the water, the sewer, the fiber – all of those different things are taking place,” Griffin said. “And the great part about it is the majority of it is already done.”

Email: sricks@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

 

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7 Comments

  • mesaman June 9, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    It’s amusing to read comments from those who have not invested their time, money, and energy how they are helping these businesses with their lost revenue dilemma. Why on earth did they choose to do an entire improvement of over a mile in the first place? St George mayor, rather than sit on your hands, occasionally wringing said hands and offering a platitude in verse, why not help them financially; no city taxes until completion, reduced taxes over a longer period of time. Surely you and the community brains can come up with a reasonable solution, at least an attempt at a solution. It is your baby, now deliver it.

    • Kace45 June 13, 2018 at 7:30 am

      These businesses (cough: *Kneaders*) need to stop complaining. You’re right — other people didn’t invest their time, money, and energy — because it’s not their business. It’s your business — so figure it out. Part of being a business owner is learning how to deal with financial set backs, road construction, employee issues, lost sales, etc. This is business 101. Running crying to the newspaper or the mayor is not a legitimate solution. Run sales, do promotions, but quit looking for others to bail you out — it makes you look incompetent. These businesses will rebound and have better street access once this is all over. The mayor didn’t commission this project and it’s not the taxpayers’ responsibility to prop up every business that suffers a drop in sales.

  • Lastdays June 10, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Actually it’s a UDOT road. They own the road. And I believe they’ve worked with businesses on this street for several years preparing for this project.
    Can’t blame everything on City Hall.

  • mmsandie June 10, 2018 at 9:23 am

    I don’t feel sorry for those businesses, they knew before they built there the street is busy, when yo7 go t the businesses you $ant ge out , you have to go in one direction,and coming up Bluff st, you can t turn into the businesses on the left side, the wider road isn,going to change that.. can’t understand why Colorland didn,t move because the road comes u0 to there front door, accidents happen and someone will drive right thru the front entrance.. but I heard the6 paid off someone to allow that.. if you were building a business, it has to be a certain number of feet away from the rd..
    Bluff st, river rd. Sunset , Dixie are all dangerous now.. Dixie dr is a racetrack for sure.. when they finish the hospitol river rd will be impossible, don,t see them widening that road which is needed..

    • comments June 10, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      ” yo7 go t the businesses you $ant ge out”

      proofreading is your friend 😉

  • youcandoit June 10, 2018 at 9:42 am

    Is there any forms to fill out for profit loss reimbursement from UDOT?

  • Mike P June 10, 2018 at 9:52 am

    So when the project is completed and there is 3 lanes in both directions, are just the two, far left lanes going to be designated for construction trucks towing utility trailers or are all 3 lanes going to be designated as such?

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