Road construction hurting Grand Rapids businesses

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - More than 250 Grand Rapids streets will be worked on in 2015, many of those projects underway right now.

While it seems some major projects like the recent Fuller and Michigan projects got done well ahead of schedule, others seem to be dragging on and hurting local business.

Construction on Plainfield Avenue has been in full swing for month, is on schedule, but local businesses are feeling the pinch.

Eric Vorpi, owner of the Cheshire Grill, is glad the streets are getting fixed, but he's worried about how it's impacting his bottom line.

"It's very difficult when you have No Parking signs as far as you can see either way, and there's not a truck to be seen," said Vorpi. "It cuts us in half as soon as the road cones go up. For this to go on for a month or however long it's gonna be, that's a big deal."

Almost two miles of roadway are under construction from Plainfield and Ann Street all the way to 3 Mile NE, forcing Vorpi to hang on until the end of June.

City of Grand Rapids communications director Steve Guitar said the city wants to satisfy as many people as possible, but they cannot solve every problem the construction causes.

"There are issues obviously with businesses being impacted, and residents, and we're working through those," said Guitar.

Some 280 street projects are scheduled throughout Grand Rapids this year, part of a larger ongoing campaign called the Vital Streets Program.

"This is a 15-year project that will be going on year after year," said Guitar. "So we just ask residents to be patient with us as we try to improve these roads, and we'll get there."

But some of the restrictions in place during construction are hurting local businesses. No Parking signs and heavy machinery turn off potential customers while city officials brainstorm new ideas to help rejuvenate affected businesses.

"Road construction does unfortunately come with costs," said Guitar. "We're uprooting businesses and uprooting neighborhoods, and if they let us know, we'll meet with them and try and come up with a solution."

Guitar encourages any business or residence experiencing issues with construction to call Central City Services for Grand Rapids by dialing 311. The city has an engagement team that will go out and meet with you to work through your problem.

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