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Lenoir City business owners feel impact of ongoing construction projects

Construction began in the area more than a year and a half ago. As traffic continues to back up frequently, businesses say they are losing customers.

Drivers in Lenoir City are used to traffic cones and long waits on Highway 321. 

The construction along that road and Highway 11 in Loudon County started nearly a year and a half ago. It will still be several more months before it is complete. 

As traffic backs up, businesses say they are losing customers.

"It’s been killing us," said Corbin Gregg, an employee at Time Saver Cleaners "We’re down by at least two-thirds what we used to do."

TDOT says the more than $15 million project started back in November of 2017. The goal is to improve intersections and widen the road. Right now, it is projected to wrap up in the beginning of August. Contractors are currently installing utilities and storm drainage at the intersection of Highway 321 and highway 11.

Look out the window and you’ll see construction cones and a whole lot of traffic at Time Saver Cleaners. Construction is one everyone's mind. 

"That’s just about all my customers talk about, wanting to know when this is going to be over," said Gregg. "When they were on this side of the highway, they kept parking earth movers right there in front of me. Absolutely just killed me completely."

Across the street at Sonic, customers are greeted by a gravel driveway leading up to the restaurant. Business is also down.

"It’s been kind of like a yo-yo. Up one day, down the next," said Jim Denton, a manager at Sonic. "When we get everything open, sales should go up. That’s what I’m planning for."

The area has survived more than a year and a half of loud machines and narrow roads. Of all the businesses on this block, construction might just be the best one to be in right now.

"Construction everywhere and orange barrels. I wish I had an orange barrel company right now," said Gregg. "If it keeps going down hill, we’ll just have to close the doors and do something else."