It's getting more difficult to drive through parts of downtown Seattle as work on the new Center City Connector streetcar project gets underway, and business owners are nervous about their customers taking a detour.
“There’s no way we can survive if people can’t get down here,” said Unika Noiel, chef and manager at Che Sara Sara, an Italian restaurant at First Avenue and Main Street.
She says business slowed down when the city recently blocked off parking spots and set up detours, and she's worried the lunch crowd won’t return for several months.
“This is a real issue; our livelihoods are at stake,” Noiel said.
The City of Seattle says it started reaching out to business owners impacted by the project this past summer with neighborhood meetings and door-to-door visits. The Seattle Office of Economic Development says it connected some merchants with free one-on-one consultants to help business owners come up with a plan for how to make it through the coming months.
They say they're still working with SDOT to identify the specific needs and challenges to small businesses as construction accelerates.
But businesses like Che Sara Sara say that does little to dull the pain of the years-long construction disruptions. The streetcar project is expected to be completed in 2020.
Click here for construction updates and a project timeline.