Road Closures Due To Sewer Project Negatively Impacting Businesses In W-B
WILKES-BARRE — Football season is usually the busiest time of year for Patte’s Sports Bar, but not this year.
Since sewer work has closed a busy stretch of North River Street between Maple Street and Courtright Avenue for the last five weeks, owner Pat Patte said this has been the slowest his sports bar has been in its
54 years in business.
As a result of the road closure and detours, the amount of people coming for lunch at Patte’s Sports Bar on West Hollenback Avenue has been “terrible,” he said.
“People only have so much time for lunch and if there are 10 detours, they will go somewhere else,” Patte said. “Sometimes you lose customers and you don’t get them back. There’s no way to make any of this up once it’s lost.”
Customers still come for dinner at Patte’s Sports Bar but not as many as usual, he said.
Patte said the project was supposed to be done in phases to minimize impact to businesses, but that wasn’t done.
“People come from different destinations and it’s hard to get here,” Patte said. “We’re a family business. We’re battling the chains. People have to be able to get easy access. People want to get to a place easily. It’s hurting a lot.”
Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority’s project, that involves installing a new 30-inch diameter wastewater interceptor line beneath North River Street, has been a nightmare for other businesses in the area as well.
Frank Scotto, co-owner of Antonio’s Pizza at 405 N. River St., said he has seen a big drop in business.
“It’s been bad. It’s been really bad,” Scotto said. “It’s like a puzzle to get here.”
Scotto said he realizes the work needs to be done, but was quick to add, “I hope it’s going to be done as quickly as possible. I don’t know how much longer we can hold on. We got bills to pay.”
Mike Smith, owner of Smith’s New & Used Tires at 353 N. River St., said his sales numbers have been down and he knows he can attribute that to the sewer project.
When some people see the “road closed” sign on one part on North River Street, he said some customers think they’re not able to get to his business but it is still accessible and loyal customers still come.
He said while it’s an unfortunate situation, the fortunate thing is he has another location on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre and a new location on the Sans Souci Highway in Hanover Twp. that are open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday.
George Tarasek, owner of Tara Tailoring and Custom Clothing at 435 N. River St., said the project has been an inconvenience.
The only way to get to his business is through Courtright Avenue, he said. On Tuesday, there was a 12-foot-deep hole crews dug in front of his store.
“It’s been hard to get in my parking lot,” Tarasek said. “If you make it inconvenient for people to access your business, they will find alteratives. Believe it or not, some are not even aware of this construction and people from outside the area who try to get here get bottenecked. It’s been terrible with the dust and dirt.”
Tarasek believes the project will get done in the time frame initially projected, however, and he is looking forward to its completion.
The road is closed right next to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and hospital spokeswoman Renita Fennick said the closure has been an “inconvenience to both our patients and staff and we look forward to the completion of this project.”
People can still access Wilkes-Barre General Hospital from the north from North River Street and from the south from North Main and West Maple streets.
“Fortunately, we have not had any instances of patients not being able to keep their appointments because of the detours and longer travel times and emergency vehicles continue to make it to our emergency department in a timely manner,” Fennick said. “We are appreciative of the community and our employees for their patience.”
They Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority initially announced the project would be completed in six to eight weeks and spokeswoman Donna Gillis said it’s in its fifth week and is still on track to be completed in that time frame. The project is about 60 percent complete, she said.
Some days of rain and inclement weather and unmarked utility lanes caused some delays, she said.
The state Department of Transportation approved the detour plans and signs and Gillis said the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority “did the best we could” to accommodate businesses and commuters.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience,” Gillis said.
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