Bump in the road

By: Daniel Gotera Email
By: Daniel Gotera Email

DURANT - Construction on University Boulevard in Durant is causing some road blocks not only for motorists but businesses as well.

City officials say widening University Boulevard to three lanes is a project that's been two years in the making. But not everyone is excited about the construction. We spoke to several business owners along this road who say they're concerned about what the future holds.

Motorists aren't the only ones having problems with construction in Durant.

"I’m really thankful we got everyone hooked before the construction got here."

Laurie Halley and her husband, Greg, own and operate Hot Shot Coffee on University Boulevard. They opened it up last august and business was good...

That is, before construction crews arrived.

"We saw an immediate reduction in our sales; it’s about 40-50 percent decrease in sales on average everyday."

The same goes for landmark bank, where officials say tellers are serving about half the number of clients they served before construction began.

They say they also didn't plan on construction starting so quickly.

"We were a little taken aback by it and we weren't expecting it that soon. Honestly, that’s why Landmark relocated in this area because all the growth in Durant has been happening in this part of town."

That's one reason why city officials think this project is vital to Durant’s success.

"The flow of traffic has slowed down in the last couple of years and we've been after this particular project for well over two years."

Durant public works director Jerry Yandell says that the University Boulevard project is a joint effort between ODOT and the city worth an estimated $2 million.

It will widen the street to three lanes and add an off-ramp off north bound highway 75 onto university, giving drivers easier access to the hospital.

So city leaders say the problems caused by construction are a small price to pay for some major improvements.

"We have endured that and we're trying to do the best we can with it routing traffic and as people become accustomed to it, it'll be so much nicer in the long run and everyone is waiting for that."

But these business owners say that's no consolation right now.

"We’re holding our own right now and taking it day by day because you never know what we're gonna do...but we're praying."

City leaders say the project is scheduled to last 265 days from the start of construction last month.

Right now they say crews are a month ahead of schedule, and they hope University Boulevard will be open to full traffic by the end of July.

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