Businesses concerned over Broadway widening

Shops preparing for reduced traffic, extra noise and, ultimately, lower sales

Businesses concerned over Broadway widening

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - We’ve been hearing about it for years, and finally, construction on the Broadway Boulevard Project is set to get underway.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held on the north side of Broadway Boulevard, just east of Norris Avenue, at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

The improvement project will widen Broadway from Euclid Avenue to Country Club Road, expanding it from four lanes to six. New bike lanes, sidewalks, bus pullouts and a landscaped median will also be put in.

Several businesses are busy getting ready for reduced traffic, extra noise and, ultimately, lower sales. At Arizona Auto Refrigeration, a business that has been on Broadway for decades, workers say they have had a steady stream of clients, even though it’s their “slow season.”

“We are kind of hoping [road workers] get the beginning of [the improvement project] done with where we are at … and they move it that way [east] fast enough for when our busy season comes,” said Zachary Weidenbach, a service advisor at Arizona Auto Refrigeration.

Weidebach says they usually start to get busy in April, which is when people tend to get the air conditioning in their vehicles fixed ahead of the hot summer months.

Like most Broadway businesses, Arizona Auto Refrigeration is bracing for a bit of a financial hit.

“We are getting ready to run some specials for the construction time. We rely a lot on our heavy duty customers,” Weidenbach said.

That’s why staff at Arizona Auto Refrigeration will likely draw up maps and fliers, so their customers know the best route to take and where to park.

A few storefronts east, the Owner of Axis Food Mart says there’s only so much they can do.

“With the economy these days, you can’t be prepared for two years – or 20 months – of construction,” Maan Mdanat said.

Mdanat says they will be ordering less inventory at the end of the month, adding most of their business comes from traffic.

“We bank on the Broadway road, that’s why I want it to be a lot better and nicer,” he said, “but we are going to pay the price.”

Mdanat hopes they don’t pay more than they have to. Already having had another business go through a 65 percent drop in sales during a construction project, Madanat wants road workers to be courteous, doing their best not to block entrances.

“Don’t make it harder on the customers and on us,” he said.

Mdanat is hoping his Food Mart outlasts the project.

As for Weidenbach, he says Arizona Auto Refrigeration is in it for the long haul, with plans to be open through the entire project and many years after.

“Don’t forget about us, we are going to be here,” he said.

Ahead of Tuesday’s groundbreaking, businesses will meet with the project manager and city leaders on Monday, Jan 13, at 5:30 p.m. at the Assembly of God on Broadway Boulevard. The meeting is open to the public.

We’re told by the Tucson Department of Transportation that construction on a storm drain system will begin near Euclid Avenue in about two weeks. Construction signs will go up and so will blue access signs that point to the entrances of each business.

The $71.3 million is mostly funded by the RTA. Pima County is chipping in about $25 million and the city is paying about $3 million for the 20-month project.

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