Photo by Jamie Wiggan
Ongoing work to replace aging gas lines along Broadway Avenue causes frequent traffic disruptions and parking restrictions throughout Stowe’s main business district.
By Jamie Wiggan
Local business owners say ongoing work to replace long stretches of gas lines around Stowe’s Broadway Avenue is hurting them and their customers.
Since getting underway last summer, the work has persistently disrupted traffic flows and restricted street parking options along the main business district.
“Everybody’s hurting over here,” said Usman Khokhar, a business partner with Anytime Market and Mo’s West Park Diner. “We’re literally just holding out.”
Columbia Gas representatives say the work is necessary to upgrade aging pipelines and to fit buildings with exterior meters in accordance with state regulations. A company spokesperson commenting recently said the project is now expected to last through spring, but he could not provide a firm completion date.
Khokhar and his cousin Mo Khan opened the diner just weeks before the work got underway and have struggled to build a clientele in the months since. He blames the gas repairs for this and said the restaurant is only staying afloat through income generated by the convenience store, which is still turning a profit despite a “10-20%” drop in sales.
Tammara Farrington has also opened a business on Broadway in the months since the gas line work began. Without any pre-construction history to compare to, she can’t say exactly how it’s impacting sales at her new salon, the Beauti Bar, but she said it is, in any case, a constant source of complaint for customers.
“Definitely our customers have a hard time trying to park,” she said.
Once inside, Farrington said, customers often grumble about the noise generated by drills and other heavy machinery, which disrupts the relaxing atmosphere expected of a salon.
Next door at H&R Block, office secretary Kelly Yunk said the work is particularly disruptive to older clientele, who often try to schedule appointments around the construction. With traffic flows and parking restrictions changing on a daily basis, Yunk said that’s hard to do.
“We definitely have a lot of complaints,” she said. “A lot of people are wondering why it’s taking so long.”
Lee Gierczynski, a Columbia Gas spokesperson, maintains work has been held up by slight weather-related delays, “but they did not significantly alter the timetable for the project.”
He said the gas line replacement should finish in around six weeks and the crews will then turn their efforts toward permanently restoring the road’s original brick paving.
“At this point, it’s too early to tell what the time frame will be for restoration until the remaining project work is completed and the final scope of the restoration work is determined,” he said.