September 22, 2014

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Detroit Road construction in Avon to be completed by August

AVON — Behind the orange barrels and backhoes on Detroit Road are numerous small businesses weathering the burden of a yearlong construction project.

It’s been tough, but business owners say they are excited to hear that crews are expected to be done by the third week in August.

That means the metal plates and wooden boards that have served as makeshift entrances to the businesses may soon be gone.

Rebecca Cain, owner of Jelly Beans Boutique, a children’s clothing store in the middle of the construction zone, said the last few months of the project reminds her when the end of a school year was approaching.

“It’s very disheartening to look and see orange barrels and look and see construction vehicles, but to know that they’re telling you there is an end in sight, you almost feel like, ‘OK, I can get through it,’ ” Cain said.

The project should draw even more business to the shops that line Detroit Road after the street is widened, a turning lane is added, and curbs and gutters are aesthetically improved. The widening was a necessity, given the amount of traffic the road sees every day, said Avon Mayor Jim Smith.

“If you don’t have that turning lane, Detroit Road gets all backed up,” he said.

Smith tried to get the project started seven years ago, but the city held out so it could get grants to help cover the

$2.5 million price tag. The city was eventually able to get $1.2 million in grants, with taxpayers footing the rest.

“We did all right with the grants, but it took us four years longer that way,” Smith said. “I’d have liked to have had the project done seven years ago, but hey, I’m happy it’s almost done now.”

The owners of some of those shops say the construction crews from Fabrizi Construction Co. of Cleveland have kept them informed of any changes in the schedule or when work would be blocking access to a certain business, making the hindrance a little easier.

“They’ve been as easy to get along with as somebody can be who’s ripping up your road and destroying your life,” Cain said.

Long, Long Ago Antiques owner Mary Ann Fury said all the workers have been courteous toward her over the span of the project.

“All the men on the job have been very nice,” Fury said. “They’ve been very polite and very, very nice to me so I have no problem.”

Sally Benson of Wear It Again — a clothing store in the same complex as Long, Long Ago Antiques — also said she’s had a good relationship with workers throughout the last nine months.

“I think they do their best,” Benson said. “They keep the accessibility as best they can.”

But while accessibility is key, the fact that fewer cars are traveling down Detroit Road seems to be a bigger problem.

Though Cain, Fury and Benson said they hadn’t noted a significant decrease in sales or customers, the change in traffic has been noticed.

“A lot of people aren’t using this street,” Fury said. “They’re going around because they know they will have to wait in line.”

But there are also some positives that will come out of the project and the hassle it has caused the business owners.

Not only will the area look better, there is also a new storm sewer system in place, which is music to Cain’s ears. She said she had problems with flooding in both the front and back of her business before the construction, and it should be alleviated when the project is done.

Contact Andrew Harner at 329-7155 or ctnews@chroniclet.com.