— By JUDY SHERIDAN
Those who work at businesses along FM 1187 say there has been little to no impact on sales — so far — as work proceeds on the reconstruction of Aledo’s main corridor.
The $11.7 million revamp — from I-20 to Oak Street — got started in October, soon after a Sept. 25 groundbreaking. It is scheduled to be finished in early 2014.
Sonic, one of the only businesses located on the road’s east side — where workers are building a new lane — currently seems to be bearing the brunt of the activity.
“We’re slightly down in sales, about $200 a day from this time last year,” Sonic General Manager Chad Marcum said. “All things considered we’re doing good, still.
“It’s definitely harder to get in and out, but the people in this community who want to eat here are going to get here.”
Kwik Kar Manager Stacey Ingram said she hasn’t noticed a drop off in sales.
“I haven’t noticed much of an effect at all,” she said, “other than when schools let out, it gets backed up and people wait — about 30 to 45 minutes.”
“Our gas sales are down, general business is down — some,” Bearcat Valero employee Don Hogue said. “I can see it slowing down.”
Lewis Hall, owner of Medicine Store Pharmacy, said he doesn’t know how long customers will put up with the inconvenience of the bumper to bumper traffic when school lets out.
“I hope they get the retail section done quickly,” he said. “If it takes a long time, it will hurt. The work on Highway 121 has destroyed the businesses along there. But we have a lot of loyal customers who will go out of their way.”
Christine Hathaway, whose daughter owns Bearcat Boutique, said business has slowed some, but “not as bad as before, when the [construction] barrels were on this side.”
“We had a wonderful Christmas season,” she said, “and January is always a slow month.”
Hathaway said the speed limit on the road should be lowered.
“People need to slow down,” she said. “Maybe we need a flashing sign. It seems to be the big gas trucks, the Shell trucks.”
Doyle Moss of Moss Insurance Group, who was asked to speak on behalf of FM 1187 businesses at the project’s groundbreaking, said TxDOT, County Judge Mark Riley and McMahon Contracting have been quick to respond to issues.
“[Contractors] ripped 10 to 15 feet of asphalt out [from in front of the business], and I went out to talk to the crew,” he said. “They gave me the name of someone to call, and within a couple hours, they put a thin level of asphalt down. They’ve been very accommodating.”
The real test will come when workers begin building the lane on the west side, Moss said, close to most of the businesses.
“Right now the traffic is on our side, and everything’s fine,” he said. “Ask me in eight or nine months.”
FM 1187, a two-lane, is being reconstructed as a four-lane divided highway.
The project has been designed and funded by Parker County, TxDOT and the Regional Transportation Council, and TxDOT is overseeing its construction.
Sales tax receipts up
The City of Aledo is reporting a $23,000 increase in the amount of sales tax collected in the last quarter of 2012, compared with the last quarter of 2011, despite the October start of the main business corridor’s reconstruction.
According to city records, $111,755 in sales tax revenue was collected in October, November and December of 2012, versus $89,123 in October, November and December of the previous year.
“The economy continues to improve in Parker County,” Aledo City Administrator Ken Pfeifer said, “and Aledo’s events and festivals have helped attract visitors and shoppers.”
The city is projecting a 5 percent decrease in sales tax this year, due to the road’s expansion.
Pfeifer said the Aledo Economic Development Corporation is discussing a plan to minimize the impact of the highway construction on businesses.