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Construction delays hindering local businesses; Haughville sandwich shop feeling the pinch

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Posted at 11:20 AM, Dec 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-07 11:25:43-05

 INDIANAPOLIS — From Broad Ripple to Haughville, neighborhood businesses have been hurt by delayed road construction.

The city has cited several different issues for construction delays.

In Haughville, the city is working to slow down traffic along Michigan street and make it safer for pedestrians.

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Originally the Michigan Street Road Diet project was supposed to be finished by the end of 2023. Now the timeline has been pushed back. In a statement to WRTV, the Indianapolis Department of Public Works said:

“As  we follow INDOT's requirements for paving, we have limits when it comes to what sort of work is able to occur over the winter months - between December 1 and April 1. This means we are unable to pave or place pavement markings.

We're going to continue to work as temperatures allow on other construction items.

With those restrictions in mind, we are targeting mid-2024 for final completion of the Michigan Street Road Diet project, one of the city's best examples of projects aimed at slowing down vehicular speeds and increasing foot traffic along commercial corridors. 

When completed, this project will represent a major investment into the vibrancy and safety of the neighborhood.”

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For local businesses like Vee’s Sandwich Shop in Haughville, the extension of the project is something they fear may cause them to close their doors. Vanessa and Willie Barnes have been operating their sandwich shop for nine years. It was their American dream to open the business but now it’s turned in to more of a nightmare.

"This has cost us anywhere from about fifty to sixty, eighty thousand dollars easy,” said Willie Barnes, a co-owner of Vee’s Sandwich shop. “It’s closer to one hundred thousand to be honest."

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Vee’s sandwich shop isn’t alone.

Earlier this year businesses on the Michigan Street corridor came together to voice their concern about the project.

Broad Ripple businesses have been impacted by construction delays too. For small business advocacy groups like the National Federation of Small Businesses, construction concerns are a big reason business join their organization.

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They represent about 11,000 small businesses in Indiana alone. They perform monthly surveysto ask business what issues they are facing. While inflation and staffing shortages remain the top issues, construction is also a worry for many.

"We encourage the state and cities that are putting transportation and road construction projects in place to be mindful and collect feedback from the community and small business owners in advance,” Natalie Robinson the Indiana State Director for NFIB said. “That way they can help prevent any damage from being done."

Willie and Vanessa Barnes say they have gotten the cold shoulder from the city.

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"The response from the city is that this will be something great for us later down the road,” Willie Barnes said. “Me and my wife have been discussing along with our kids and stuff and our family how are we going to stay here down the road when we can't even make a dollar today."

The couple said they wish the city would provide some sort of financial support to businesses that have been impacted by construction delays.

Especially since the owners of Vee’s sandwich shop said that their business was inaccessible for a period of time due to the construction equipment blocking their entrance.

"Y’all blocking us and then no aid no help,” Willie Barnes said. “We need some assistance.”

Small business advocates like NFBT say if businesses are struggling and asking for assistance it’s something that cities and the state should explore.

"It's critical that we support them and provide the resources that they need to be successful,” Robinson said.