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Street improvement project in Naples has business owner concerned

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jun 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-13 18:58:14-04

NAPLES, Fla. — A major road construction project that aims to improve mobility for cyclists and pedestrians in downtown Naples has a local street torn up and barricaded as crews do their work. But one business owner says the project is keeping customers away.

"This is a major problem for summertime traffic," said Nathan Menzano, who runs the Studio M By Nathan salon at the corner of Fifth Avenue South and Eighth Street South.

He said that he's noticed a big reduction in foot traffic since the barricades went up on Eighth Street, just north of Fifth Avenue about six weeks ago.

"The mess on Fifth Avenue is not just a hindrance to me, it's a hindrance to all small businesses that are having a hard time paying the rent," Menzano said.

Alison Bickett, a traffic engineer for the City of Naples, said that the city has tried its best to accommodate businesses, even putting up lighted sign along the street to let drivers know that businesses are open during construction.

"We're just doing the work during the off-season to reduce impacts to any of the businesses," Bickett said. "We haven't had too many complaints, luckily."

She said that the wide-ranging project will make the streets safer for cyclists to navigate. Stormwater improvements are also being made to reduce flooding impacts, and streetlights are being updated.

"Hopefully we can get moving forward and get out of everybody's way, especially near the Fifth Avenue district, sooner than later," Bickett said.

She said that Phase One of the project should wrap up before Thanksgiving, with Phase Two beginning in April 2020.