Road work is never easy on the businesses that lie in its path and the widening of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard through Seffner is no exception.
“It’s been horrible,” said KFC manager John Little. It has cost the national restaurant chain about $500 a day, or 15 percent of its business, Little said.
Not to mention there have been three accidents right outside of the KFC since construction began, he said. “People pulling out in to traffic, it’s been crazy.”
For George Vazquez, who opened his barber shop, Custom Cuts, just before the road widening project started, it’s been nothing less than a nightmare.
“Business has been hell,” Vazquez said. A construction crew ran over his $160 sign and blocked his entrance with trucks. Commuters don’t even try to stop in for a cut because traffic is so chaotic, he said.
“We’ve endured our share of road construction. This should have been done years ago and we’re glad it is getting done, but I’ve lost a lot of customers,” Vazquez said.
The project includes taking the road from two lanes to four lanes, with a center turn lane, from Highview Road to Parsons Avenue. New sidewalks are being placed on both sides of the road and new signals with hurricane-resistant poles are being installed at Pine Street, Highview Road and Parsons.
The $7.1 million project that spans just under a mile is designed to alleviate a major bottleneck where MLK goes from four lanes down to two as traffic heads east from County Road 579.
“We’re still on track to finish in the fall,” said Kris Carson, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation. The project is being constructed by Better Roads Inc.
Vazquez complained that while the road work is basically completed in front of his business near Highview, the lanes are still not open.
Carson said DOT doesn’t tell the contractor how to do the job, as long as it gets done on time.