Midtown Sewer Project Creates Problems For Businesses

The parking lot next to the Starbucks and Ceol Irish Pub on South Virginia Street is mostly full at midday, but the signs warn it can't stay that way.

The city is replacing old sewer lines in this neighborhood and at 6 p.m. they'll start digging again.

That's something many businesses here can deal with, but that start time comes just about the time happy hour ends and the real business day at Ron McCarty's pub begins.

"That's a large chunk of Starbucks business as well as myself," says McCarty.

In fact, it covers most of his business day.

So, anyone trying to get to his pub at night has to negotiate orange cones and heavy equipment. Most are apparently choosing to go elsewhere.

"I'm down 75 to 80 percent of regular revenue," he says. "I do my happy hour and it's a ghost town after that."

McCarty says he understands the need for the project, but complains he's getting little help from the contractor or the city. When help is given it isn't consistent.

"I've spoken to the city several times about making arrangements for business access signs. They did manage to get them up one night last week. Since then it hasn't happened."

In fact, it hasn't been easy going for anyone on this project. It's been slowed by the discovery of a number of underground obstacles, old fuel tanks and big boulders.

"Some very large rocks," says Kerri Koski the project manager for Reno Public Works.

Actually there's one of those obstacles sitting in the parking lot, a huge boulder taking up a couple of spaces.

"As a matter of fact they hit another one of similar size last night" says Koski. "They were able to break it so they could carry it away."

That discovery delayed the removal of the first boulder however. Today someone had scribbled a sign on it. "Free rock, You haul away."

McCarty gets the joke, but isn't laughing.

Koski says she understands and the city will do what it can. Business access signs were expected late today.

She says there will be one more night of disruption as the excavation crosses South Virginia Street, then a couple more weeks as it continues down California Avenue to Plumas.

There's still work to be done in the alley way behind Ceol. When that happens Koski says she may be able to accommodate McCarty's concerns with a day time shift.

She says the project is slated to be completed by mid-June. In the meantime "the best we can do is keep them informed of what we're doing, keep the contractor rolling and get out of here as soon as we can."

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