Traffic & business

It looks like a long, hot summer ahead, especially for traffic that’s backed up daily due to ongoing construction projects at two of Marietta’s major intersections. And some businesses along the Pike and Greene streets corridor are also feeling the heat.

“It’s definitely affecting us. There is so much traffic during lunch and rush hours that people are avoiding that area,” said Jason Brown, district manager for the local Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers eateries.

He said business has dropped off a bit at the Wendy’s on Pike Street since construction began on the traffic and pedestrian safety upgrade project at the nearby Seventh, Pike and Greene streets intersection.

“We may be picking up some business at our Muskingum Drive location as people are using that as an alternate route to get around the construction,” Brown said. “But this project has to be done, and we know we’re not alone.”

Laurie Strahler, who owns all three McDonald’s restaurants in Marietta, said the store at the corner of Pike and Jefferson has also suffered from the construction. She said the current intersection improvements at Pike, Jefferson and Acme streets is reminiscent of the Ohio 7 upgrade project completed in that area a couple of years ago.

“This is starting to look like that,” she said. “There are lines of traffic with hundred of cars, but few of those coming into our parking lot.”

Strahler said she understands drivers who are waiting in that traffic may not want to lose their place in line to stop in for iced tea or a sandwich.

“But we’re open 24/7, and my hope is that people will come in or go to one of our other locations on Glendale Road and Gilman Avenue,” she said. “I’m sure many of the businesses along Pike Street are also impacted. When these projects are done the intersections will be great, but I just wish it didn’t have to be done during the summer months.”

In the Kroger parking lot across the street Christi Oakes of Mineral Wells, W.Va., was loading groceries into her van Tuesday.

“I always try to avoid the downtown area when we come to Marietta, but today I noticed there was quite a bit of traffic,” she said. “And I didn’t realize how much traffic there is near the college (at Seventh, Pike and Greene).”

Cathy and Rich Luthy from Beverly stopped at the Captain D’s Restaurant near the Seventh, Pike and Greene intersection Tuesday afternoon.

“We come into Marietta at least once a week, and do get irritated at the construction traffic sometimes,” Cathy said. “But we also know about some of the side roads here, so we can get around the traffic jams on the main streets.”

Next door, at Sheila’s Hair Shoppe & Tanning, co-owner Sheila King said the increased traffic has had little impact on her business.

“Our customers want their haircuts, and they’ll come in anyway, although it’s sometimes difficult for them to get into the parking lot from either the Pike Street or Greene Street sides of the property,” she said.

Sheila noted the shop has been in business at that location since 1991.

“We do hear some complaints about the traffic from customers. But I guess that’s the price of progress, and we hope this will improve the intersection,” co-owner Jerry King said of the project.

Jeff Neader owns the Cone N’ Shake on Pike Street, about halfway between the two intersection projects.

“The construction hasn’t affected us a bit,” he said. “In fact, we seem to be receiving some more business from people just stopping in off the street, and we’re feeding a lot of the guys from the construction crews.”

The Witten Farm Market produce and flower stand, adjacent to the Cone ‘N Shake parking lot, has also been seeing business during the construction.

“It’s been pretty steady. I think a lot of people stop at the Cone ‘N Shake for ice cream and then come over to buy produce or flowers at our market,” said Megan Devol who’s working the farm stand this summer.

The traffic congestion hasn’t caused much of a problem for emergency response, according to Marietta Fire Chief C.W. Durham.

“We haven’t seen any increase in calls from that area since construction began,” he said. “It has had a slight impact on our response times, but nothing major. We try to plan ahead before responding to that area.”

David Rose, spokesman for Ohio Department of Transportation District 10, lead agency for both intersection projects, said department officials understand that nobody likes to sit in traffic during construction projects and ODOT tries to keep traffic moving as normally as possible.

“But the good thing is that it’s usually just a few minutes delay, and we advise people to try and give themselves a little more time before setting out for work or other destinations,” he said. “And the construction zones at both of these intersections are fairly short distances.”

Rose said the road work is all being done during daylight hours, but work will not go on during holidays and local festivals, including the Riverfront Roar in July and September’s Ohio River Sternwheel Festival.

He said the project at Seventh, Pike and Greene streets is particularly interesting due to the unusual design of the intersection, but ODOT intends to address the level of traffic flow there as well as provide a safe way for pedestrians to cross between the north and south sides of Pike Street.

“There will be two left turn lanes for traffic turning from Greene onto North Seventh Street, which will help eliminate traffic backups in the single lane that exists there now,” he said. “And the left turn lane for (westbound) traffic crossing the Williamstown Bridge from Greene Street will be much longer to accommodate more vehicles and allow other traffic to continue west on Greene.”

Another improvement will be the inability for westbound traffic to turn left onto South Sixth Street.

“Traffic will only be allowed to turn right onto South Sixth or right onto Greene from South Sixth. And a raised median will be installed there to help prevent left turns on to Greene from South Sixth Street,” Rose said.

For pedestrians, a crosswalk will be developed from the Qdoba restaurant property to the south side of Pike Street.

“People often cross that street to get to other restaurants like Wendy’s and Bar B Cuties,” Rose said. “There will be signals for the pedestrian crossing and a raised median island in the center of the street to help pedestrians safely cross.”

He said work on the intersection upgrades at both Seventh, Pike and Greene and at Pike, Acme and Jefferson will continue simultaneously through the summer months. The construction is scheduled for completion in November of this year.