OKC streetcar construction hurting some Midtown businesses

Streetcar construction at the 10th Street roundabout in Midtown (Caroline Vandergriff/KOKH).

Lane closures and detours for streetcar construction have hit Midtown, and many businesses near the roundabout at Northwest 10th and Walker say the torn-up streets are hurting their bottom line.

“It’s kind of hard,” said Brenda Bailey, a manager at Brown’s Bakery. “We’ve got a lot of angry customers that don’t know how to get here, or they go around in circles trying to get to us."

Crews recently started tearing up 10th Street to lay tracks for the streetcar, and the construction is leaving many drivers confused. It's also limited the ways customers can access Midtown restaurants and shops.

“For the most part, we try to keep at least two-way traffic going, and in some places at least one-way traffic, so we can minimize the impact to businesses,” said David Todd, a program manager for MAPS 3.

But the impact is still there. It’s already affecting sales at GoGo Sushi.

“People don’t want to come down here because they think they can’t access our restaurant,” said owner Lisa Nguyen.

Things have been slower than normal at Brown’s Bakery, too.

“This circle is supposed to be closed for a month, which is our worst nightmare because it’s our busiest season,” said Bailey.

However, both businesses are thankful for the loyal customers who are willing to put up with the mess, knowing it’s only temporary.

“We just have to tell them, you know what, when it’s all said and done, you’ll be grateful,” said Nguyen.

And Nguyen and Bailey say they’ll be grateful too. The nearly five-miles of rail will eventually connect Bricktown to Midtown, through the central business corridor.

“I think it’s just going to be great for Midtown because we have lots of restaurants and things to do up here that people don’t think about,” said Bailey.

In the meantime, they hope people will make their way around the construction and drop by.

“We’re still here,” Nguyen said. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re not closing early. We’re keeping everything the same.”

There will be different phases of construction with changing lane closures and detours until the streetcar opens in the fall of 2018. You can keep up with the schedule by signing up for a weekly email update from the MAPS 3 Project.

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