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DFW Connector Construction Hurting Grapevine Businesses

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GRAPEVINE (CBS 11 NEWS) – No one doubted there needed to be a construction project at Highways 114 and 121. Traffic was a nightmare.

But during construction, traffic on the feeder roads in the triangular area bordered by the two highways and William D. Tate road have very little traffic, exit ramps that are cut off, confusing lane closures and limited access. And that’s a problem for business owners.

Normally, here, restaurants are gold mines.

“Every parking space full,” said Joseph Rushing, manager of Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery Restaurant about his normal lunch hours. “So much so, it would overflow into Outback’s parking lot,” which sits nearby.

But when construction cuts off traffic flow, “Dead as a doornail,” said Boston’s Gourmet Pizza’s manager Michael Harris. “Its not good.”

“This parking lot is empty,” said Rushing as he looked out at the lot that was normally full in the afternoon. “It stays like this on a consistent basis. The construction has definitely affected our business.”

The construction is part of the DFW Connector project. A fourteen-and-a-half-mile, $1 billion road project due for completion in 2014.

But this leg of the work has isolated the businesses here. The state tries to help out by placing blue signs indicating where the entrances to business are amid the orange pylons and piles of dirt. But when a sign is needed to find a driveway, it tends to drive away business.

“You don’t know whether to staff up 100 servers or two servers because its just hit or miss every day,” Harrison said. “You don’t know what to expect.”

“There have been days I can’t even get to work,” said Halie Gibbs, a server at The Tilted Kilt. Gibbs said on those days she loses any chance of earning tips, even if it is from a dwindling number of restaurant guests.

Contractors told the business owners the work in their area should be done by the end of this year or early next year.

“It’s one of those waiting games,” Rushing said. “We’re just waiting to see who’s going to close down because of this.”

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