Road closures for light rail construction in Aurora hurt some businesses

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AURORA, Colo. -- The latest RTD light rail project going in along Interstate 225 eventually promises to be a boon to businesses in the area, but some are worried they won't survive to see it.

The project most recently forced a three-week closure at East Exposition Avenue and South Sable Boulevard, and for businesses nearby, it's just the latest blow.

"It's been going on for over a year and our (customer) count is down between 250 and 300 people a month," said Helga Huber, owner of Helga's German Restaurant & Deli. "Which is huge. We have 30 employees working here and we've had to let some go because of the slow business."

Yet, Huber feels fortunate after watching what it has done to her neighbors.

"We've had three stores leave here already because they went bankrupt," she said.

And that's just on one side of the road. Mike Lee owns E Mart International Market and rents out the rest of the building. He lost four tenants before the latest closure.

"It's terrible," Lee said. "I hope that there is not going to be a serious impact that's coming again. I'm afraid about that right now."

Anita Williams lives in the area. She said getting around the area has been hard but decided to stop by the businesses after hearing they were struggling.

"What's the point of having a wonderful light rail if the businesses along the route are closed?" Williams said.

For Huber, the next month will be the biggest test. She said she knows it's the price of progress but hopes it doesn't also cost her her business.

"I'm hoping we're going to make it through," Huber said. "I know that this is just part of the growing pain, but it's our livelihood too, you know?"

RTD and the city of Aurora said they have tried to help businesses by keeping as many entrances to businesses open as they can, offering signage to inform customers about construction and free advertising on their websites and newsletters.

The businesses said the efforts have done little the change their bottom lines.​