Broadway Bridge Construction Hurts Nearby Businesses 

click to enlarge Extreme Pizza has suffered a 30 percent drop in business since the Broadway Bridge construction began. - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • Extreme Pizza has suffered a 30 percent drop in business since the Broadway Bridge construction began.

Every chair in Extreme Pizza, at 590 S. Broadway Ave., sat empty on a recent Monday afternoon. No one stood before the cash register to order a pizza or a sub sandwich. Outside, construction workers wearing bright orange shirts passed by the windows and the beeping of a work truck in reverse came from the street. 

"It's been cut off," said Jim Steward, referring to his business since the construction of the Broadway Avenue Bridge began in January. "We're down 25 or 30 percent. I'm definitely worried, yeah, but what can I do?"

According to the Idaho Transportation Department, 24,000 cars typically pass over the bridge each day. Those are 24,000 cars no longer passing by Steward's business.

Steward has owned the franchise pizza place on the corner of Broadway and Parkcenter Boulevard for nearly five years. He said since construction began to replace the Broadway Bridge, his dine-in and carry-out business has dropped significantly, but his delivery business has stayed normal. 

What he's really missing is the lunch crowd. He said people who work downtown don't want to hassle with the traffic and burden of construction because their lunch breaks aren't long enough.

"The consensus among my customers is, 'I'm staying away from that mess,'" Steward said. "But the traffic is actually down around here and the stop light [at Broadway and Parkcenter] is much better. It's not bad. Come over."

Steward said the new bridge will be a good thing—and it needed to happen because the original bridge was 50 years old and in disrepair—but it will be a struggle to hang on until the new span is completed in September. The $20.2 million project will replace the old bridge with a six-lane deck complete with bike lanes, better access to the greenbelt and 10-foot-wide sidewalks. 

Struggling even worse than Extreme Pizza are the businesses across the Boise River, including Baja Fresh Mexican Grill. District manager Laura Rodriguez said business has dropped 55 percent since construction began. 

"I've been here since this location opened in 2005, and this is the worst drop of business I have ever seen," Rodriguez said. 

She said the Mexican fast-food chain has been trying to do more advertising to drum up business—and even offers a discount to construction workers—but like Extreme Pizza, the tables still sit empty. 

click to enlarge Construction on the Broadway - Bridge will last through September 2016. - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • Construction on the Broadway Bridge will last through September 2016.
Approaching the entrance to Baja Fresh requires passing by dozens of large, orange traffic cones, chain-link fencing, arrows and signs that read "Road Closed" and "Do Not Enter." It's only accessible from University Drive or northbound on Broadway. 

Rodriguez said she doesn't think there needs to be quite so many construction cones and signs.

"It scares people away," she said. 

Most of Rodriguez's customers came from the downtown area, especially St. Luke's Hospital and the Ada County Courthouse. Now, there's no easy way to get to the restaurant. 

"The other two locations are fine," Rodriguez said. "It's just my location—my baby. This place is my life. I don't know how to make it better. I told the construction workers to hurry. We're only in the first month, with nine more to go."
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