I-24 Closures Worry East Nashville Business Owners
by Adam Ghassemi
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Five Points Pizza only opened last September.
"I think we filled kind of a niche in this part of the neighborhood with the lower, reasonably priced meal," said co-owner David Tieman who is in already in a wait-and-see mode as they approach their first summer in business.
"It only takes one time getting stuck in traffic over here to where you might not make it back again," he said.
East Nashville businesses may have survived the first weekend of T-DOT construction along I-24, but many here are asking the question: can they convince customers they're worth the hassle?
"It'll be a struggle," said General Manager Brad Hacker of the Germantown Cafe East, which has a front row to the closures and frustrations near Main & Spring Streets.
"This road right here is totally blocked off," Hacker said looking out the restaurant's main windows. "It makes it a little bit tough in terms of our guests being able to make it into the area and so we're concerned and we do the majority of our business on the weekends."
TDOT officials say over the weekend the contractor was able to mill the old surface, repair several places on the interstate and bridge decks as well as restripe lanes.
"We actually had some comments this morning from the public that said we did a nice job with the detours and they had very little trouble getting around town," said TDOT Region 3 Director Winston Gaffron.
Some people are trying to fight the problem of losing customers. On an East Nashville LISTSERV, one user wrote, "I hope all of us who live here will try to deflect that impact a bit by patronizing East-side businesses every time we have a local option."
"I think that is just absolutely phenomenal and it talks about what East Nashville is about," Hacker said.
For newer businesses, the idea of trying to establish a strong customer base during a recession is scary enough, now they hope this won't make it any worse.
"We're a little nervous just for how it's going to work out period. Let alone with this on top of it," Tieman went on to say.
Both businesses say they're ready to take customers calls and give out directions on the easiest ways to get to their front doors during construction weekends.
Crews will take this coming weekend off for the Country Music Marathon as well as in August for the Tomato Art Fest. I-24 will be closed for many weekends most weekends until September.
A complete schedule is posted on the project website.