Businesses report drop in foot traffic amid Merrick utility work

Posted: Updated:

A construction project in Merrick is curtailing business during what should be the busy holiday season, according to some shops there.

Lesa Shapiro's Village Streetwear store is usually packed this time of year. But the spike in vehicle traffic on the street outside has led to a decline in foot traffic.

"It's already hard enough because of online shopping, so when your customers come and visit, you don't block the street," she said. "That's just not fair, especially through the holidays." 

She blames the ongoing utility work on Merrick Road. In September, National Grid began replacing an aging natural gas main.

"They stop traffic in one direction or another at points," Shapiro said. "This particular day, it took me almost 20 minutes to get to work. I live literally five minutes from here."

Denise Siano, of Freeport, said the traffic has given her second thoughts about shopping there.

"It has been a nightmare to get here," she said. "There have been many times when I just aborted the mission and gone home, because it has been too crowded."  

Neighboring businesses say the construction has been hurting them, too.

"It affected our walk-in business and our delivery business as well, because it would take the drivers longer to get to where they had to go," said Tammy Giamanco, of the nearby Little Cucina Pizzeria.

A spokesman for National Grid said the project is necessary and apologized for the inconvenience. He said the company always tries to work with residents and businesses.  

When asked why the work is being done during business hours, National Grid explained that in accordance with its work permits, work requiring more than one lane of traffic closure take place at night, while work requiring a single lane's closure take place during the day."

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