Fairbanks businesses keep calm and carry on as construction closes busy roads this summer

Published: Jun. 3, 2021 at 4:46 PM AKDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 4:47 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - With two bridges closed and multiple road repairs taking place this summer, much of Fairbanks is seeing some kind of road work. For businesses in construction areas, the detours can hurt commerce.

“During the lunch time it’s maybe 50% less than normal time,” said Taco King Manager Santos Gonzalez. His restaurant is in the middle of two construction projects. Since last year the Wendell Ave bridge has been closed while a new one is built. This summer the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) also began work to fix Third Street.

Currently to get to Taco King, customers have to drive to Illinois Street and then back towards Taco King on Mini Street. “It’s been a little bit more hard for customers to get here, but they have been making their way through with their signs they have out,” Gonzalez said.

Play it Again Sports, which is next door to Taco King has also seen business lagging.

“It’s definitely slowed things down some. It’s a little bit of a maze, round-about way to get here,” said owner Toby Dougherty

Even though getting to the businesses can be a chore, both Gonzalez and Dougherty said they have loyal customers.

“Thank you so much for the loyal customers, the ones who support us all the time. Even with this construction, I just want to say thank you so much,” Gonzalez said.

Dougherty said that he has “a pretty loyal fan base, customer base for the last 27 years. So it’s been nice. People do try to make an effort to come by even though it’s been difficult.”

Nathan Minnema is one such customer who says he has been coming to Play It Again Sports for a while and wanted to show support.

“When they are on the end of a isolated road with road work going on like this, and they are kind of hard to get to, you kind of want to, almost want to make the effort to get to them because you know they might be suffering on their sales, so I wanted to look them up,” Minnema said.

The Department of Transportation makes a point to keep business access open, and places signs to help customers find the business.

“They have the signs outlaid pretty well, so following the detours and the residential access signs kind of brought me right in,” Minnema said. Dougherty said that he has had customers calling and asking how to get to the store with all of the construction.

The Alaska DOT’s Northern Region Information Officer, Caitlin Frye, encourages locals to support businesses saying, “We know that you might have to take a detour around to get to a business, but please be confident that you will be able to get there. Follow those business access signs and please support your local businesses in construction zones.”

Gonzalez said that when they do finish all of the road work, he expects it will bring additional customers because of the improved roads and traffic.

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