Closures for Aurora light rail has local business owners concerned

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AURORA, Colo. -- The light rail in Aurora takes a big step forward Sunday night, but it will mean the closure of a major intersection for six weeks.

That has some area residents and businesses worried about the impact.

“We have been the owners here for almost 20 years,” said Andy Kim, whose parents own 5th Quarter Liquors at the intersection of East Alameda Avenue and South Sable Boulevard.

The business has stood the test of time there. But Kim worries what six weeks will mean to his business, when RTD closes the intersection for light rail construction.

“It’s obviously going to affect business in a negative way because people are not going to have the access they need to get the shops here,” Kim said.

Area business, including a Valero gas station on the corner, worry what a complete closure will mean as 60,000 vehicles a day detour elsewhere.

“People will stay away because of construction. We do make it a priority to maintain business access. We do work with businesses. We have a web page for them,” RTD spokeswoman Lisa Trujillo said.

RTD encourages support of local businesses and promotes their businesses on its website. But in the end, it realizes they’ll feel an impact.

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“We look at this as short-term pain for long-term gain. Aurora will be transformed once the train comes through here. Everyone will want to come shop here,” Trujillo said.

The work will run 24/7 and involve moving utilities, grading and paving the road, relocating traffic signals, and laying track across Alameda.

“Since they are going to close it down, I don’t know how I am going to get home,” said pedestrian Sarah Ray, who lives at nearby apartments on Sable.

She isn’t sure how she’ll navigate through the closure, but she also looks forward to trains on the tracks.

“I’m excited to ride it to see where it goes,” Ray said.

Longtime businesses like 5th Quarter Liquors hope the progress means toasting to even more profits down the line.

“I think six weeks of sacrifice isn’t too much to ask to get the benefits the light rail will bring to us eventually,” Kim said.

If you normally drive on Alameda, RTD said use Sixth or Mississippi avenues instead. If you normally drive Sable, use Abilene Street or Chambers Road instead. The work is scheduled to last until Nov. 23.