Businesses bank on patience paying off

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David Bokesch is in need of a new sign to direct customers to Green Thumb West's parking lot on Davis Road.

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Businesses and drivers along Davis Road have had to get used to the barrels and the dust from the road-widening project.  Special
Special
Businesses and drivers along Davis Road have had to get used to the barrels and the dust from the road-widening project.

Green Thumb West is on the east side of the road, the unpaved portion. Many businesses along the construction zone have small signs attached to the orange barrels to direct people to their sometimes not-so-obvious entrances.

"We have a lot of older people coming, and they don't like driving on Davis at all. When they come up here and they see those barrels all over, then they're confused," said Mr. Bokesch, who owns the nursery. "It's just been a hassle.

The Davis Road widening started in earnest in spring 2006. The $22 million project will make the street four lanes from Washington Road to Skinner Mill Road and add an interchange with Interstate 20 at the portion of the road known as Walton Way Extension.

"I have customers that have said they're just not going to come because they couldn't get in," Mr. Bokesch said.

Not all businesses seem to suffer from the construction.

"For certain types of businesses, it is the kiss of death. For ours, it has not made a tremendous difference, I don't think," said George Snelling III, the owner of Washington Road Storage.

Ben Jordan moved his toner cartridge business, Ink Boy, into a shopping plaza on Davis Road last year, just as the project was beginning.

"One guy was fussing about his alignment," he said of his customers' comments about driving through the unpaved portion.

Despite the traffic hassles, sudden water main breaks, flying dust and equipment blocking the parking lot, Mr. Jordan said he's been able to increase sales.

"My numbers are better than when I was in the shopping center with Wal-Mart. It hasn't hurt, but it makes me eager to find out what my business is going to do once they're done with the road," he said.

Kay Bentley, a co-owner of the The Snug Steak & Grill, said she's grown accustomed to the barrels. "We're pleased. They seem to be on schedule. They've kept us informed. We're just waiting for it to get done," she said.

Lunchtime is when construction has the most impact; by the time the dinner crowd arrives, construction has wrapped up for the day.

With only eight months to go, Mr. Bokesch sees light at the end of the tunnel.

"I keep thinking it will get done and be better for us," he said.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials said the project is on schedule and should be completed in January.

"It will be one of the best roads in town," Dr. Snelling said.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.


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