Residents say I-35 construction impacts local businesses - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Residents say I-35 construction impacts local businesses

Source: MGN Source: MGN
RIESEL, TX (KXXV) -

When TxDot started construction on I-35 in Salado, residents were told that the project would be done in three years. The project is in its fourth year with little to show at the moment but closed businesses and an increase in accidents in the village.

According to Mayor Skip Blancett, 75 of the 140 businesses that called Salado home relocated or closed since construction began. Blancett says the reroutes and construction make it harder to navigate.

“It’s very difficult to come off the highway, it's difficult to find out where main street was and once you get on main it's difficult for you to find your way off to go home.” Blancett said.

Main street, an area that Blancett says use to thrive, with shoppers, is mostly empty now on Sunday afternoons. Adjacent to Main Street lies I-35 where traffic is at a bumper to bumper stand still.

With less people stopping in, some shop owners have taken drastic measures to stay afloat. Some shops close early, others can no longer afford extra help. Creta Ferrin, owner of Salado Creek Jewelers no longer pays herself. She says there are days where she will only sell one or two items.

“It doesn’t match protocol, why you’re staying open, but I know there’s a rainbow with a gold pot.” She believes like many that Salado is a “unique” town. It’s the charm of the town, she believes will attract people.

James Rosche, came to Salado one weekend while and fell in love. He quit his job and decided to raise his family in town, where he’s lived the past eight years. Rosche saw the impact the construction had on Salado, specifically neighborhood coffee spot, Strawberry Patch.

One day when Rosche came to get his coffee and jellies, he noticed the store was liquidating. After talking with owners, they struck up a deal.

“I bought this business [Strawberry Patch] because I wanted to stop the bleeding. I wanted to say you know what I like this town.” Rosche said. He says it wasn’t so much about the store but helping the town.

In spite of the current construction woes, the village is seeing a slow return in interested businesses. Allie Guenther of Guenther Design Group recently opened and operates her business out of Salado. She believes the construction on I-35 offers the town new possibilities.

“I look at it as a flow of energy the possibilities of people coming in that would never stop here the idea of those people coming in and falling in love with Salado just how me and my husband did.” Guenther said.

Mayor Blancett has led a series of meetings in order to keep the construction process transparent between, TxDot, James Construction (the project contractor) and the town. In a series of meetings residents have voiced their grievances to both TxDot and the construction company.

With every day the project goes over the deadline projection, the construction company is charged a fine. Blancett has requested that some of the money goes back to Salado in order to offset some of the financial hardships incurred.

Whether they receive the money or not, Blancett is confident that the town will recover.

“We do things you would not expect a small town to do. We are a small village with a tremendous heart.” Blancett said.

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