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Residents Unhappy with Road and Utility Work

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

Jackson, Tenn. - Residents and business owners along a historic Jackson street are upset over the city's efforts to improve South Royal Street.

Construction on Royal Street has been underway for only a month, and some business owners are already complaining. They said they feel that inconvenience is destroying their businesses. Residents said with no end to construction in sight, they fear that bumpy street will lead them to a financial dead end.

Dennie Price, who works as a barber for Zelliare's Barbershop, believes he knows why business has been slow. "Customers are afraid that the business entrance and road construction is damaging their cars," said Price.

"Ever since it started it's been killing our business, as you can see our parking lot is empty," he added.

Many workers told 7 Eyewitness News that they are making less money, and losing clientele. Some employees admitted to experiencing damage to their own vehicles driving to and from work.

" This is our only job, this is my only job, this is what I do. I got kids and responsibilities to take care of," said Price.

Scott Chandler, who is the city engineer, said that all of the road construction began near the end of May. Despite what residents think, Chandler said, his plans are on time especially considering all of the difficult phases the older road must undergo during rehabilitation.

"We are basically coming in and taking up as much of the old asphalt that's been laid down as we can," said Chandler.

Ripping down a road to its foundation leaves drivers with gravel, exposed bricks and potholes which are unsafe and any driver's worst nightmare, said residents.

"It's terrible. You feel everything regardless of what kind of car you're driving. You feel every bump," said resident Delmar White.

If contractors do not finish the curb, gutter and sidewalk replacements by the end of December, Chandler said they will have to push back their project deadline to May 31, 2013.

Price said he doesn't know how much more his customers can take. He fears a spring deadline will ruin his business.

"They need to speed the process up or figure out what they are going to do with us," said Price.

Even though the road rehab process is frustrating, city officials believe it is necessary.

"It is an inconvenience and the city understands that. We just want the public to bear with us and know that we are trying to get it done as quickly as possible," said Chandler.

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