Construction begins on Mesa light rail, businesses bracing for drop in sales

MESA, AZ - A new construction project in downtown Mesa has drivers preparing for traffic changes and local businesses bracing for a potential drop in sales.

Officials with Valley Metro said the new project will be an expansion to the current light rail system.

Crews will be working along Main Street from Country Club Drive to Centennial Way. 

One lane will be closed in each direction and certain intersections and turn lanes will be closed or blocked off.

Parking in downtown Mesa will also be limited. 

“This doesn’t make us happy when this is going to be another long summer. Summer is a slow time anyway and then when you add the construction on top of that it can be a huge problem," said business owner Christina Butz.

Butz, who owns a dog grooming business called A Day in Paradise, said she is already hearing from customers frustrated by the traffic.

"We've had a lot of people either not show up to their appointment, or being delayed getting here so they don't make it here on time, or just not come here all together," said Butz.

Valley Metro officials said they are reaching out to local businesses to try and help them with customers.

Susan Tierney with Valley Metro said outreach employees have distributed flyers, spoken with business owners about the changes, and put up special signs directing drivers.

"We meet with businesses on their turf and work with them to develop specific marketing plans to try and get exposure," said Tierney.

Construction on this phase of the light rail project is expected to last until the end of September. Crews will be working 5 days a week most of the time but may switch to 7 days a week at certain times.

Tierney admits that while getting around may be tough during the project. Valley Metro officials believe the project will ultimately be a major boost for downtown Mesa.

"The really exciting thing for businesses is that they are going to have more people delivered to their store fronts. We have about 47,000 people riding light rail right now and this extension could add about 5,000 more to that total," said Tierney.

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