No relief for businesses during north Topeka bridge construction

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For the next four months, there will be no access from North Topeka Boulevard onto U.S. 24.

That’s because Kansas Department of Transportation engineers are not accepting a proposal to add another ramp, which would have allowed travel onto U.S. 24 westbound.

Business owners are already feeling an impact on their bottom line.

Slow days are becoming the norm for Nibs Coffee Shop in North Topeka.

“Business is down at least half right now,” says owner Nichole Yingling.

The north side of bridge construction at U.S. 24 and Topeka Boulevard has been closed to traffic for more than two weeks now, and Yingling says it’s leaving her restaurant empty.

“We have two crowds, the crowds that come and sit and enjoy themselves and then the crowds that are on their way to work, that are in a hurry that just don’t have time to take a 20 minute detour,” Yingling says.

To make it easier to get around, KDOT engineers were considering a proposal to add a ramp going south on Topeka Boulevard onto U.S. 24 westbound, but in a meeting with business owners, they said they will not be constructing the extra ramp.

Engineers say that ramp would have added about $120,000 to the $2 million project, but beyond that, it would have delayed the replacement by nearly a month and they say it would have allowed drivers to take shortcuts on roads not meant to be detours.

Reasons aside, these business owners aren’t happy.

“That would have been beneficial for drive by traffic but they’re going to do what they’re going to do,” says Marla Watson, who owns Village North Styling Salon.

“We know that we’re going to make it at the end of this,” Yingling says, “But it is going to impact us and it’s going to be a struggle and we’re definitely concerned about that.”

Yingling adds she’ll have to rely on regulars to make sure her 10-year-business makes it another four months.

Nibs coffee shop has already started to cut hours to save money. It closes every day around 2 p.m. – that’s 3-4 hours earlier than usual. KDOT engineers hope to have the bridge complete by September.

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