July 22, 2001 11:00 pm
MAJOR WORK: Street construction on Cove Avenue and Albany Street have cut off some businesses from easy public access. (The Observer/KELLY WARD).
MAJOR WORK: Street construction on Cove Avenue and Albany Street have cut off some businesses from easy public access. (The Observer/KELLY WARD).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

City officials say they are trying to do as much as possible to alleviate traffic problems along Cove Avenue and Albany Street while the roads are being reconstructed at a cost of $1.39 million.

Some business people interviewed in an informal sampling still dont like the idea of the roadwork making it hard for customers to reach the business locations.

Were trying to get out the message that the businesses are still open for business, said City engineer Norm Paullus. Weve posted some detour signs and some signs indicating how to get to specific business, such as the bowling alley.

The Albany Street project, which is 1,000 lineal feet from Cove Avenue to Island Avenue, is ahead of schedule and should be done about the middle of September, Paullus said. The Cove Avenue reconstruction and widening project involving 1,700 lineal feet of roadway is on schedule, with work due to be done by Oct. 1, which would allow the street to be opened to traffic. The contractor has another month for some cleanup work, Paullus said.

Steve Rzonca, owner of The Rock bowling alley and restaurant, said business has been substantially affected in both the bowling alley and restaurant.

But trying to put a positive spin on things, he said he has dropped all rates and implemented several specials, including a deal whereby customers who eat lunch between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. can bowl for 50 cents a game.

Rzonca said he appreciated the citys putting out directional signs leading people to the business and the fact that the city has improved Penn Avenue as one access to the bowling alley.

I hope the community will understand and help us get through this tough time. The city is attempting to make it easy for the general public. People can always phone us (975-2695). Open bowling is available all the time.

Even businesses on side streets leading off Albany Avenue are affected.

Kathie Grove, owner of Bridles N Britches Western Store at 2308 East R Ave., said her business has been some slower but not too bad. But the city hasnt yet closed off that end of Albany. Itll be tough when they do. Ill be glad when its all done.

Not too far down the same dead-end street, Sherry Talbert, who manages both the Sandman Inn and the Super 8 Motel, said she had her marketing person working with the city to get stranded motorists here. Out-of-town people will have a hard time. The city has said they would do some extra signage.

The Best Western Rama Inn is on the same street.

Custom Tours owner Doug Drill at 1609 Albany Ave. said he had very little walk-in traffic except when people come to pay a bill or pick up tour packets.

But I understand things will get worse when the rest of the street is torn up.

In the same building, Marcia Frye, owner of Tomorrows Communications, which includes a cell phone business, said, People cant see the store front. Im putting out more advertising and plan to have some sandwich-board signs made. Im not happy and have let the city know about it. When they tear up the rest of the street, there wont be any access to the front of our building. Normally I have a lot of walk-in business. Ive been affected big time.

The Greyhound Bus Station at the corner of Cove and Portland avenues is still open although Cove is blocked at that point. There is a problem for the bus to find a place to park and customers are inconvenienced, the depot operator said.