Three months in, drivers are getting used to traffic barriers and orange cones on Maize Road. Or are they?
One project will widen North Maize Road, between K-96 and 45th Street, from two lanes to five, including a turn lane. Workers will also add sidewalks on both sides.
Local business owners are suffering the most from the growing pains. Many commuters who may have patronized these businesses before the construction started are now bypassing the area entirely. Yet owners are keeping a positive attitude about things.
Tina Collins and her husband have been running the Butcher Block on North Maize Road for 23 years and feel they'll be able to make it through the next couple of years alright. It's their neighbors they're most concerned about.
“They can find their liquor or a sandwich shop anywhere in Wichita. You don't have to mess with the construction,” said Tina Collins.
While the road crews have been careful to continue to allow access to all businesses in the area, the when and the where of that access is constantly changing.
“Like, one day you might come in this way and then they're gonna do more construction and they close that off and you've got to figure out a different path how to get in and out,” said Mardy Egbert of Nancy’s A-Maize-N Sandwiches.
At Nancy's A-Maize-N Sandwiches the weekdays have gotten pretty slow. Just down the street, traffic at Maize Discount Liquor is thin, though steady.
“It's just, you know, the one way and we have a lot of people asking how to get around,” said Macy Daines of Maize Discount Liquor.
Many businesses are participating in a citywide incentive plan which rewards customers for continuing to use Maize businesses during the construction with prizes and discounts. Others have added special offers through Facebook pages.
No matter what the product is, whether it's alcohol or sandwiches or meat, no matter what the advertising special might be, businesses say that's not what they're counting on to get them through this tough period.
“We've got very loyal customers that find their way in here,” they said at Nancy’s A-Maize-N Sandwiches.
Maize Discount Liquor agreed. “We have really loyal customers, so... “
Tina Collins, of the Butcher Block, added, “They give out our name constantly. They're putting stuff on Facebook constantly. So their friends see it and then they come out.”
They all agree that in the long run, the pain of today's construction will be worth it.
“Its going to be good for the community cause kids can actually walk to Kwik Shop or Subway or wherever they need to go,” Collins said.
Businesses will have to survive another 16 months to two years of the construction mess, though, before they see that big payoff. In the meantime some are seeing sales fall by as much as 40% to 50%.
Which is why business owners just ask that customers be patient and don’t give up on them.
The construction is part of an overall plan to improve traffic flow and beautify the Maize area. The longterm plan also calls for work along 119th and 135th streets over the next two years.
Work crews are also adding dual left-turn lanes to all four approaches at the 21st and Maize intersection. They will add a raised median on Maize Road to improve traffic flow turning into the area’s retail locations. Construction here is scheduled to be completed by Thanksgiving.