DENVER – A major construction project on East Hampden Avenue and South Havana Street is impacting profits for small businesses in the area.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is redesigning how traffic flows from South Dahlia Street to South Parker Road in an attempt to make it safer for pedestrians and drivers. Part of the project includes a new raised median from Monaco to Tamarac, preventing vehicles from turning left except for at designated intersections.
“In the end, the goal is for people to make safer left turns. It’s going to be at fewer spots, but it will be at signalized spots,” CDOT spokesperson Presley Fowler told FOX31 at a community meeting for the project in June.
Hampden is dotted with businesses in the project area. Many are small, locally owned “mom-and pop”-type shops.
“That was half of the reason that I did move here, because it was right off I-25. You can get in, you can get out. But now it’s harder to get in or get out,” Paul Yacovetta told FOX31.
Yacovetta owns and operates Yacovetta Jewelry. The family-run shop specializes in custom designs and jewelry repair. It has been in business for more than 60 years. They’ve been in the location on Hampden for the past nine years.
Yacovetta says while he agrees safety should be top priority for everyone utilizing Hampden, he believes the changes come with a high price.
“Well, it might be best for traffic but if it hurts people who are paying the taxes and collecting the taxes to pay for these kind of projects. I think that we could try to please everybody,” he said.
According to Yacovetta, customers are already frustrated with the new traffic pattern, which only allows them to access northbound lanes of 285 from the shop’s driveway.
“Customers sometimes are funny and if it’s harder to get to, they’ll keep going until they hit someone else,” he said.
Yacovetta worries customers may begin to pass by his storefront and the other businesses along the corridor.
“I’ve known some businesses along Broadway, you know, when they did the Broadway thing, I mean some places went out of business because the construction was taking so long,” Yacovetta said.
CDOT hosted several meetings with the community before construction began. In June, CDOT said it was taking the potential impact of the construction project into consideration.