Campus construction affects nearby businesses

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Arkansas State University in Jonesboro opened Marion Berry Parkway late last year, promising safer access to campus for cars and pedestrians.

The parkway's unveiling caused many to celebrate, but businesses have taken a hit after the Caraway Road entrance to campus was closed off.

"We've probably seen about a 10 to 15 percent drop in sales since the road's closed," Adam Sinnard said.

Sinnard reopened Quiznos Sub two years ago at the corner of Matthews and Caraway, but he is now considering letting his lease run out because of the dramatic loss in profit.

"I mean we used to get a lot of people from the rugby fields and from all the other stuff that was right there, and now it's kind of difficult for those folks to just come right over," Sinnard explained. "We used to get a lot of traffic before events at the (ASU Convocation Center) – people come down and go on over and get to the Convo. We're not getting that anymore because everybody's using Stadium."

Sinnard expected sales to pick up after the new overpass opened in November 2011, but closing off the Caraway entrance has cut off his main customers – students.

"It's a great location because we have everything downtown. We've got all the medical stuff right down Matthews and down Washington, and then we also had all the university stuff," he said. "Now, with the road being closed, we've kind of lost the university stuff, but we still have all the medical stuff."

Just down Matthews from Quiznos sits Pizza Chef. Its owner has kept his tables full, as his restaurant normally relies on regulars to spread the word about the food.

"I mean I've had people driving up and down the road for 10 years and walk in one day and say, 'Hey, I didn't even know you were here,'" Brian Harvey said.

Harvey has owned Pizza Chef for 15 years and counts the lunch hours as his busiest times. He says his business makes few deliveries to the ASU campus because of its size and difficulty to navigate.

"Dine-ins and pickups are really good," Harvey said, "and the deliveries, especially in that area, are just almost nonexistent."

ASU is currently reviewing its campus master plan. Officials are looking into placing a pedestrian bridge over the railroads near Caraway. The university, however, says there are no immediate plans for designing or constructing such a structure.

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.