Military Road Construction Timeline Update

(KATV) Benton - Thousands of drivers use Military Road in Benton every day, but business owners there say they are left in the dust because of detours. The construction to widen lanes and create a new corridor was supposed to be finished last year.

Rumors in the tight-knit area are that the construction could last another two-years.

Road construction and heavy traffic has been the view for business and homeowners near Lincoln Square for more than 6 months.

Gail Owen owns Gail and Blake's Hair Shop. She says, "Walk-in business was really good I was in here by myself and needed someone really bad." She hired two people. "When they started construction on this part of the street, walking business quit. It fizzled out completely."

Some people unfamiliar with the construction and detours don't know how to get to the shopping center. Gail adds, "A lot of people completely avoid the area because they don't want to come through."

The shops income has been cut by more than half, they even considered closing. She says, "We're just going to hanging on. It will be great when the construction is over."

Charles Pritchard shows Channel Seven his appointment book, "Business was great and starts to die down as you go through the year."

Charles says he has been driven to plan B. "I had to get a part time job. A couple of weeks ago I made $95 and I owed Gail $75. That is just how it is."

Quitting is not an option for Charles Pritchard because of his relationship with the owners and clients. He smiles, "There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are watching progress daily. It is going to be nice when it is done."

Mayor David Mattingly says, "You can't take on such a major project without it having an impact on people."

Mayor Mattingly says there's been significant progress in recent months and complaints have declined. A major slow down was caused by unforeseen problems. "We were running into what's called undercut. It is a problem in Saline County. It is nothing more than soil conditions were the soil is mushy and unstable. You have to go in and cut it out and build it up like building a bridge."

Phase one from Highway 5 to Smithers is expected to be complete this month, the target for all construction to be complete is mid-September. Mayor Mattingly jokes, "The construction companies will have packed up and gone and I'm going to have a party."

Other delays have been weather related and workers getting behind.

Commercial realtors say they are already getting inquiries from businesses wanting to move to the Military Road area.