As the Georgia Department of Transportation gears up earth-moving equipment to begin a multimillion dollar road project along Interstate 75 between Pierce Avenue and Arkwright Road exits, some businesses along Riverside Drive are concerned but see it might be a positive thing.
The $54.5 million project involves widening I-75, building new bridges across I-75 and creating new exit and entrance ramps. This work is being done in advance of the proposed future roadwork reconfiguring the I-75/Interstate 16 split.
The nearly three-year project is expected to begin Tuesday on I-75.
“Anytime we have major traffic, whether it’s an accident or anything on 75, it does clog up Riverside Drive,” said Brad Spiegel, co-owner of Quality Computer Systems Inc., 2940 Riverside Drive. “It makes it much more difficult to get in and out of the shopping center.”
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But if more local drivers come onto Riverside Drive to avoid congested traffic on the interstate, that could be a good thing.
“I do see having more people driving by as a bonus because you are getting the recognition of the store name,” he said. “But I think the difficulty getting in and out of here will cause issues.”
Jerry Henderson, manager of the S&S Cafeteria, 2626 Riverside Drive, said the roadwork may actually cause people to slow down and notice the restaurant.
“I think it will be a plus for us because they are going to divert some of that (I-75) traffic onto Riverside,” Henderson said. “I’m praying about this a lot. We need the business. We want the business. More of our potential customers go by the exit so fast — sometimes they don’t even see us.”
But on the other hand, some of the eatery’s older customers are “very concerned because they don’t like to get into the congestion,” he said.
Jack Moore Sr., CEO of Moore’s Furniture Outlet, said they’re celebrating 26 years of being in business — the past 12 years at 2950 Riverside Drive.
While additional traffic that’s expected on Riverside Drive during the road construction may cause some problems for people pulling into or out of his parking lot, Moore indicated he was optimistic.
“My thinking is, we’ve been here a long time and our business is doing real good, and I feel like if people want to find me they are going to find me,” he said. We are very confident that everything’s going to be OK. ... I guess we could pick up a few people who happen to be riding by.”
Jim Tomlinson, owner of Singer Sewing Machine and Vacuums, 881 Lee Road, just off Riverside Drive, also believes customers will continue finding their way to his business during the interstate construction.
“I think most of our business comes from Riverside anyway, not from the interstate,” Tomlinson said. “Most people are used to waiting in traffic. They are not going to avoid Riverside because of the traffic. People will adapt. We are a destination business anyway.”
Telegraph writer Rodney Manley contributed to this report. To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 7 44-4223.