RAPID CITY, S.D. — Local business owners say sales have dropped during the three-plus years of construction on the South Dakota roadway that’s considered the gateway to the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Several businesses along the popular tourist corridor on Mount Rushmore Road have closed or moved to different locations over the years, the Rapid City Journal reported .

Convenience store owner Bob Rick said he has experienced a 30 percent decline in sales at his gasoline and convenience shop during construction. He said he checks on the construction daily and is counting down the days for the $24 million project to be complete, which is tentatively scheduled for next summer.

“This third year has been tough,” Rick said. “I think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s still not done.”

Preliminary research estimated that retailers might see a 30 percent drop in business during peak construction, said Debra Jensen, a Mount Rushmore Road business owner and one of the lobbyists for the reconstruction project. Gas stations and convenience stores were predicted to experience a 60 percent drop.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge for businesses,” said Jensen, who worked with other business owners to disseminate information and to support each other during the decline in customers and traffic.

The state transportation department, city officials and contractors coordinated to keep traffic flowing during the construction. But even with the help, many businesses had to consolidate or choose to sell their property.

Many business owners said they’re hopeful that the corridor’s new street pavements, sidewalks, medians and sewer and water lines will be worth it.

If weather complies, major construction this fall could put the project on track to be finished by the end of May.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com