MINT HILL, N.C. - Businesses in Mint Hill and Matthews say they are losing up to 40% a day due to an ongoing construction project.
Work began last month on an 8-week construction project to place roundabouts on a clogged stretch of road that connects Mint Hill and Matthews.
Piles of dirt, orange cones and massive construction equipment now sit in the middle of the intersection of busy NC 51 and Idlewild Road.
Also at that intersection: Pizza Spiga, a restaurant that has been in business close to 20 years.
"It's hurting us," says owner Phil Randazzo. "Business is down 20, 30, 40 percent some days."
It's lunchtime at the neighborhood all-you-eat buffet. A half-dozen pizzas sit hot and fresh, ready to be sliced; and yet just three tables have customers.
"It's creating such a problem that our customers who've been coming here 20 years almost are basically saying you know maybe we'll wait til it's over," Randazzo says.
Less than three weeks into the project, Randazzo says many people are complaining of such traffic hassles, they are skipping the intersection entirely. Others, he fears, don't realize the businesses are open because of all of the news that the intersection is closed.
Other businesses report similar setbacks. On neighborhood social media sites, businesses claim to be losing thousands of dollars a day.
Randazzo says he looking forward to celebrating 20 years of business next spring. But to get there, his business will need the help of the community.
"We'll make it, we'll make it," he says. "We are confident that we'll be okay."
The project has a $1.8 million dollar pricetag. NCDOT is picking up the lionshare of the cost, but both Mint Hill and Matthews contributed to the expense.
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