When the construction dust clears, the town of Independence will have an all new highway through town and new sidewalks and lighting, but will the businesses survive?
Several merchants say they have doubts. Many of them report more than 75% business loss because of the war-zone appearance of the small town. Crews have removed the two northbound lanes through the community. A dirt pit remains as plans for replacement go forward. Curt Weirman, who is with Caltrans on scene, said that the asphault removal preceeds complete replacement of the slope of the highway, with drainage improvement and a much thicker structure.
Sam Sharma, owner of the Chevron station and Valley Market, represents the view of virtually all business owners. Three more months of tourists rushing around orange cones to escape the construction will kill their businesses. Sharma expressed his frustration:
Weirman said crews will repair Mr. Sharma’s sign base and other damage. He said he would look into complaints of rudeness.
Many merchants hope that government red tape will find a way to help them before they have to close their doors. Local workers have lost their jobs as business owners scramble to cut costs while their revenue plummets.