By Cassie Kelly | November 4, 2013
For some Nelsonville business owners, it has been business as usual, but others are suffering since the opening of the Nelsonville Bypass on Oct. 1.
Nelsonville City Planner Mark Hall said that since the bypass opened up, things have been quieter.
“The first thing that really jumps out at you is that the truck traffic is no longer there,” Hall said.
David Rose, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said the $200 million dollar project was designed for two reasons: safety and traffic reduction.
“All of sudden you were going from a high-speed four-lane highway to a two-lane road at 30 to 45 miles per hour,” said Rose. “There was a lot of congestion and accidents.”
Although a few businesses, such as Tink’s Automotive Center, closed before the bypass even opened, Hall said that those businesses shut down for reasons unrelated to the bypass and feels that it is too early to know what economic effects the bypass will have on local business.
“I felt that you would need at least three months to say, ‘Wow! This is reality, it’s really declined or it hasn’t really affected me,’ ” Hall said.
But some businesses have closed since the bypass opened. Jim Balding, manager of Sonic Drive-In on Canal Street, said that the BP station across the street closed last week. Balding added that it was struggling with competition from the Kroger that was built a year ago.
“The bypass was just a final nail in the coffin for them,” Balding said. “Yesterday they were open and today they were putting bags on the gas stops.”
Jim Herpy has owned the Sonic for 20 years and said that his business is still holding its own since the bypass opened.
There are only two exits to Nelsonville, one on the north side and one on the south. Herpy said that Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville and the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway are great tourist attractions, but people don’t want to turn around.
“Let’s face it, people are in a hurry and want to get from point A to point B,” Herpy said. “If you don’t have to go through Nelsonville, you’re not going to go through Nelsonville.”
Herpy said it would be great if they could get advertising and directional signs along the highway, but those are expensive options.
“We just have to hang on, work hard and keep our fingers crossed,” Herpy said. “That’s the best can we can do.”
Read the original story in The Post, here.