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I-80 construction road closures affect businesses

SALT LAKE CITY -- The construction shutting down the Foothill Drive exits of I-80 is already causing some headaches.

Traffic backed up Monday, some avoided the area altogether, and area businesses are feeling the pinch.

“It’s a rough first day. We're down 20 percent in sales. Likewise, our traffic is down 20 percent," said Bjorn's Brew Coffee Drive Thru owner Frank Corbett said.

In a typical day, the coffee shop serves around 400 cars. That does not include the foot traffic they get to their walk-up window.

UDOT did an hour-by-hour traffic study of the exits and found, during peak times, as many as 500 cars pass through the area. Corbett said they usually come right by his business, but now they are not.

Corbett attributes the decline to the ramp closures. He said he understands work has to be done but wishes he and other business owners had more notice. He said a UDOT worker came to his business on Wednesday with a flier, just five days before construction began. Corbett called it "annoying."

UDOT said their notice to drivers was nothing out of the ordinary. They put up signs early last week and notified media on Friday. Spokesman John Gleason said there are a number of reasons why a member of their public outreach team notified Corbett's business when they did; perhaps the traffic pattern was not fully decided on yet, but he said there is room for improvement.

“Talking to businesses, that’s one of the most important things that we do during this construction process and we want to help them thrive,” Gleason said. He added they would like to work with the area businesses to see where they can improve.

Construction is expected to last through mid-September. Corbett said he hopes his business picks back up; if it does not, he said he may have to cut back on things, including his employees.