As construction on Route 347 enters its second year, local businesses on the affected one-mile stretch say they are hurting, taking heavy losses due to traffic it’s created.
Fred Cavalli, owner of estimated his business has dropped by between 40 and 50 percent during the last six months, with an 80 percent drop in October - his worst month this year.
“We’re suffering,” he said.
Hauppauge business owners were by construction, in large part thanks to Route 111 providing alternate access to stores. More than a year later, many are losing a signficant number customers and praying for an end.
“We want it to finish already. It’s been going on forever,” said Ron Cavalli, general manager of Cavalli Jewelry. “Cars can’t turn in from the westbound lanes.”
He looked at the quiet entrance of neighboring
“There used to be a line out here at 5:30,” Cavalli said.
Yoko Torii, a manager at the popular sushi spot, estimated business has been down by about 30 percent since June.
“Lunch is very bad right now,” she said.
Gus Panagatos, owner of the has had a similar experience.
“I’ve lost 30 percent of my business, especially for lunch. At night, people tell me, ‘We love to come here because we like it, but we can’t come here during our one-hour break because there’s too much traffic.’”
Panagatos said his customers are going to the Candlelight Diner in Commack for lunch instead because it's a short drive west on Route 347 - opposite the direction of construction. He said he has tried to make up for construction traffic by allowing customers call in their lunch orders and setting up their tables in advance. Still, he said he has also had to cut his staff by two waitresses.
“It hasn’t always been this bad,” he said, “mostly the last three to four months.”
Panagatos said he attended nearly all of New York State Department of Public Transportation’s public meetings on Route 347’s improvements and repeatedly insisted that it would hurt his business. When a June 28, Panagatos was left for most of the day. The owner estimates he lost $3,000 worth of business that afternoon.
Dan Braet ownsin the Hauppauge Shopping Center. Braet said he was told that the construction would be carried out in such a way that it would not hurt the nearby businesses.
“Our original assurances were that the roadwork would be done at nighttime, but we got a notice 10 days before it started that would not be the case,” he said.
Braet said he hears a “running scenario” from customers about the difficulty they have turning into the strip mall’s parking lot. He said he worries about what will happen after the stretch is completed.
A new traffic light has been installed at the Townline Road and Route 347 intersection, permanently changing the flow of eastbound traffic. The overall expansion of Route 347 along the one-mile stretch from the Route 454 interchange to Route 111 is scheduled to be completed by 2012.
“It’s frustrating because we’re doing this mileage with the expectation that they’re going to do the next segment right after,” Braet said. “We’re not expecting it will get any better.”
was the only business that did not report a significant drop in customer traffic. Shoprite’s assistant manager, Danny Scott, said his store is doing as much business as it's ever done.
"Maybe it's just the nature of the business that we're in," Scott said.