BERWICK — The final phase of a $ 4 million road reconstruction project is underway in Columbia County but businesses say the much-needed work is hurting their bottom line.
The construction is along Route 11 – also known as Front Street – in Berwick. Some businesses say the work has cut into their bottom line so much that if it continues through the summer, they might have to close temporarily.
With parking at a premium, the chamber of commerce is looking to people who work downtown for help.
Diggers and heavy equipment litter downtown Berwick as crews work to reconstruct more than two miles of Route 11. Some business owners say the parking restrictions are demolishing their business.
At A Perfect Blend, owners say they have more empty seats than usual and getting their catering orders out the door has become a big challenge.
“We feel that hit of a lack of customers, but a lot of people say, you know, how hard it is to get here,” said owner Christine Oliver.
Just across the street at Georgie’s Bagels, owner George Zapata says he only served 14 customers on this morning. he’s had to cut employee hours and has stopped donating to local charities.
“How can you get here? You cannot get here. There’s barrels up, there’s no parking here, people are scared to park and they’re not even working here,” said Zapata. “This is an absolute disaster for the downtown. It’s an absolute disaster.”
The construction work is expected to last at least another month and a half and until that’s all done, some people in Berwick are planning to try and help businesses get by.
“We’re going to visit every restaurant and solicit the businesses in the downtown and try to support them,” said Amy Shortlidge.
Shortlidge, from the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, is asking people who work in downtown Berwick to do the same and put aside the brown bag for a week or two.
Ed Connell is a regular customer at Georgie’s Bagels and says getting a parking spot downtown is a struggle but he’s managing.
“A little bit. Like I said, I pick out a spot, I don’t know if it is legal or not, you know, at this time.”
Businesses hope others find their way through the barrels to help those struggling to keep their doors open.
“Oh, I think it would be huge, to do a two-week, support-local kind of buy-local drive. I think it will help the downtown considerably.”
This construction project also jammed up roads in Berwick last summer.
PennDOT says it plans to wrap up the work sometime in June.