Construction cones and torn-up roads are familiar sights for people who have traveled Lower Military Road lately. With the construction comes the associated frustration of residents who do not feel progress is being made.
The inconvenience of drivers is compounded by the impact the construction has on businesses located along the roadway.
Lisa Spencer of Lisa's Bait Shop says the construction has been detrimental for her and her business. "It's killing it," she said.
"People can't even get to me," Spencer said.
Spencer pointed to the construction at the Military Road and Congo Road intersection. "My customers can't to me on Watts Road. They see the sign that say 'No through traffic' and think the road is closed. I can definitely tell a difference in my business."
Spencer made these comments on Wednesday afternoon, when the temperatures were mild. "Today would have been a great day for fishing, but I've only had four customers."
Benton Mayor David Mattingly has fielded many questions and complaints about the Military Road construction project. On Oct. 19 and Oct. 23, he met with with representatives of McGeorge Construction and the project manager from McClelland Engineering. McGeorge is the construction contractor and McClelland oversees the project.
During these two meetings, specific timelines for each portion of the project were discussed and the following dates and portions of the work were agreed upon:
1. Kyle, Watts and Old Congo Roads are currently scheduled to be paved by Nov. 2, weather permitting.
2. The new south two-lane roadbed from the Arkansas 5 overpass commencing at Browning Street to Northshore Drive and possibly to Smithers Drive, will be paved by Nov. 16, weather permitting.
3. The area on Military Road in front of Burger King and Popeye's will be paved by Nov. 2, weather permitting.
Mattingly also stated, "It has been pointed out to me by numerous citizens, as well as business owners, that on numerous days there has been very little construction activity on any portion of the project. I have advised the McGeorge and McClelland representatives that there is a significant difference in the perception of what people see on days when hardly anything is happening versus the high level of activity they have witnessed" on other days.
At the conclusion of the meetings, Mattingly asked if all parties were "still comfortable with saying this project will be completed by mid-August 2013." All in attendance agreed that the deadline is still reasonable as long as there are no significant weather interruptions.
Spencer said fall is the time of year when her business starts to slow down, but that the construction in the area is "still a headache. I don't know what to do. I can really feel the difference this project has had on my shop."