Dino Dakarus says business at his Furys Ferry Road restaurant is beginning to make up for the losses he suffered during the busy road's four-year, traffic-snarling construction project.
The owner of Dino's Chicago Express in the Petersburg Shoppes said sales have increased 5 percent compared to this time a year ago, and he said he wishes he could recoup the four years of losses from the Georgia Department of Transportation or contractor Reeves Construction.
"I think that they need to come and pay us for all the things that we lost, because (business is) fantastic now," Dakarus said.
For the final two years of construction, Dakarus said, he relied on money squirreled away in savings to keep his restaurant afloat.
Crews from Reeves started the three-mile road-widening project in August 2002 with a projected completion date of April 2004. After repeated delays, nearly four years passed before all four lanes were opened in May.
State Department of Transportation district construction engineer Rusty Merritt said workers were completing the final "punch list" of minor repairs and clean-up along the corridor. He said a final state inspection is the only work remaining before calling Furys Ferry Road complete.
"As soon as they are finished with that, we're in a position to call it done," he said.
J&L Wine and Spirits co-owner John Vaiden said he is certain the prolonged construction hurt his business, though he could not say what the actual financial effect has been.
He said he opened the package store near the intersection of Furys Ferry and Baston roads only a few months before construction, but potential customers in the community often told him they avoided Furys Ferry Road during the project.
"That's lost business. If they don't drive down the road, they can't stop here to shop," he said, adding that most state officials and area leaders were not effective at speeding up the pace of construction.
County commissioners and many state officials said at the time that their hands were tied, and Reeves was fined for delays.
Dakarus said he is pleased with the condition of the new four-lane stretch of road but hopes the way the state and local governments handle road work delays will change.
Dakarus said he looks forward to his business's first Masters Week in four years free from road construction.
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