Businesses Frustrated Over Jefferson St. Sewer Work

Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Parker Slaybaugh

Lynchburg, VA - Some popular Lynchburg businesses are soon going to have a lot to deal with.

The city will be putting a massive pipe in the ground on Jefferson St. right in front of Waterstone Pizza, Bikes Unlimited and some brand new loft apartments. That means construction noise, dust and traffic confusion for months along Jefferson Street. On top of it, the busy season for those businesses has just kicked in.

City officials have their hands tied with this project. It's a state-mandated sewer project. The technical name for it is the James River Interceptor Division Three A project.

The new pipe will be six feet in diameter and costs the city $5.74 million to put in the ground. But the real heartache isn't the price tag; It's the amount of construction that's got people talking.

"This construction just stopped here, and now they're going to start," said Gerry Washburn, a Forest resident.

"We thought they were done," said Kurt Schussmann, a Lynchburg resident.

The stretch of Jefferson Street from Waterstone Pizza to Washington Street will be under construction until October 2013. That has nearby businesses concerned for their own survival.

Project Manager Jim Talian with the Lynchburg's department of water resources explains why the new sewer pipe is worth the construction chaos like this:

"It's entire purpose is to keep sewage water out of the James River. Keep it going to the wastewater plant instead of to the river."

Talian says the city eases the pain on businesses in three ways: working in phases, giving contractors financial incentives to finish the project on time, and by adding some parking. Yes, the parking lot alongside Bikes Unlimited will go away during construction. But city officials promise it will add 90 more spots in the area.

Still, parking is exactly what the Washburns worry about.

"It's going to impact parking. There's going to be longer lines probably," said Washburn.

One business owner says the city might as well build a moat around his shop. That's how harmful he thinks this construction will be to his business.