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Tamaqua businesses not too affected by bridge project

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    Construction on Broad Street in Tamaqua is creating some minor headaches for motorists traveling the detours, but it’s business as usual for the borough’s many businesses. JESSICA KNAPP/TIMES NEWS

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    Sherry Dental Services on West Broad Street in Tamaqua is one of the businesses located in the construction zone created by the Wabash Tunnel Bridge Replacement Project. Staff member Jennifer Fegley says the project hasn’t negatively affected the business. KATHY KUNKEL/TIMES NEWS

Published July 11. 2018 11:09AM

Despite the recent construction on West Broad Street in Tamaqua, local businesses remain positive.

Though the journey might be a bit more difficult than before, customers and visitors are still able to stop by the places they know and love.

The only exception, in a strange twist, is the Tamaqua Salvation Army. While not a business, the Salvation Army is used to having two dozen or more people stop by every day.

“With the construction, that is now more like just two or three a day,” said Melissa Latham, center manager.

The construction also adversely affected the center’s bimonthly food pantry.

“We usually have more than 100 people visit our food pantry every week, but, on June 9, there were only about 70. And, we had to cancel our annual Kidz Karnival, which is our second-largest fundraiser for the year.”

While her daily commute from home takes about twice as long as before construction, Latham said it’s “really neat to watch the progress on the project.”

Jennifer Fegley at Sherry Dental said, “We thought it would be a lot worse than it is, but we haven’t had any cancellations. It helps that we explain the situation and provide directions when we call patients to confirm their appointment.”

Lee Ann James, service manager at Wells Fargo Bank, said, “We were very proactive and it helped. The first week was slow, but business quickly returned to normal. We provided our out-of-town customers with maps, specific to them, highlighting the route from their home to the bank. All is good here.”

The office staff at Banning Orthodontics, located above the bank, also pointed out that being proactive helped. There was some initial confusion for patients from out of town, but no cancellations. Dr. Banning also provided a notice concerning parking on the front doors, which people heeded, meaning there has been no abuse to the parking situation.

Restaurateur Alfie Picone of La Dolce Casa, whose business is located where the bridge is being replaced, said, “We are blessed to have so much support. It’s been business as usual. Our loyal customers have found ways around the construction and there’s actually plenty of parking available. The only difficulty would be for our older or disabled customers who have a problem walking, since there is no parking directly out front. When the project was announced, we were afraid there would be a big drop in our business for three months, but that hasn’t happened. I thank God every day for our many blessings.”

The restaurant has also seen an increase in its delivery business.

“The hardest part is getting used to the changes,” said the Rev. Phyllis Wolford of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Although St. John’s is not directly located on Broad Street, the construction may inconvenience members on their way to service. But attendance was not affected too much since her congregation includes people from other local communities as well.

Summer hot spots like Tamaqua’s public pool the Bungalow and the public library remain mostly unaffected as well.

The Bungalow gives locals a place to escape the summer heat and features a concession stand, slides and a kiddie pool. The library continues to welcome people of all ages through both their summer reading and adult book discussion programs.

Luigi’s Brick Oven Pizzeria is located on Broad Street a little distance away from the construction zone, and employees say they aren’t seeing much of a difference in the drop in customers.

“It’s good that they’re doing it,” said Donna Laughlin of Luigi’s. “The pizzeria remains just as busy as ever and although it’s a slight inconvenience now, it will all be worth it in the long run.”

Latham summed it up best, saying, “We will all get through this inconvenience. Tamaqua pulls together when we need to.”

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