NORFOLK, NE — The $5.7 million bridge project on East Norfolk Avenue has hindered local businesses downtown.
Cornhusker Auto owner Al Rajaee says they have felt the reduction of business. Though they do have the support of their current customers, Rajaee says they have been most affected by the lack of drive-by traffic.
“We are missing the drive by traffic. The traffic count here was 10,000 per day. We are definitely missing that traffic and that is something we can’t replace. We knew that would be a concern and now we are dealing with that.”
Rajaee says that his business, as well as other businesses downtown depend on the length of the project. He says the construction company needs to do more to fast-track the work.
“We share that concern with the folks at the city. We aren’t seeing that urgency from the construction crew. They are here at around 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. and finishing up at 6 p.m. at night in a five day construction. In our estimation when they say fast track we were hoping they be working from early in the morning until the sun went down and work six or seven days a week.”
Business owners like Rajaee encourage citizens to follow the detour signs and continue shopping as usual. Efforts to keep patrons aware have been made through commercials and signs on the road.
Rajaee said that Cornhusker Auto has increased their advertising budget by 50 percent despite drops in sales.
Though this may be a trying time for downtown businesses, Rajaee says they are all working together.
“When our consumers come in on weekends we send them to restaurants on the other side of the bridge to have lunch. We are working together and i know Hy Vee and Prengers are doing the sama thing, we are in this together…”
Rajaee says if any business should not survive during construction, it would be harmful to the Norfolk economy.
“I believe the folks of Norfolk are smart enough and know that our survival and business survival is depended on it.”
Rajaee says it’s worth the trip for drivers to take the detours on Omaha Avenue and Benjamin Avenue.