Stifling construction near end at Cloud Springs Road

Stifling construction near end at Cloud Springs Road

July 20th, 2011 by Carey O'Neil in Business Around the Region

With road construction nearly complete on Cloud Springs Road, traffic moves past the Interstate Commerce Center near the Interstate 75 exit.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

After years of jackhammers, bulldozers and blocked roads, many merchants on Cloud Springs Road had enough.

Kim Dewberry, co-owner of Take & Bake Delivery and Catering, certainly had. A couple other businesses had moved away before she reached her breaking point.

Eventually, the constant congestion caused by the road widening project and, at one point, complete obstruction of the entrances and exits to her North Georgia store was just too much to bear and she temporarily relocated.

"Not just me, but a lot of businesses suffered. The economy was bad enough; we didn't need this," she said. "It was crazy. It was dangerous, just because you come one way one day and then the next day it'd be totally different."

Today -- about four years after the road project started -- it's an entirely different story, Dewberry said. She said she always thought her 4215 Cloud Springs Road location had "perfect retail potential" to capture those driving between Georgia towns and Chattanooga.

Since the construction ended, the businesswoman said, she has been right.

"It was kind of a no-brainer to move back in," she said. "It's amazing to me just to sit and watch how many cars go up and down the road."

All those cars took a long time to get there. The Catoosa County road construction is still wrapping up, but the majority of the work is done. The project started in October 2007 with an expected completion date of May 31, 2009.

Bad weather and utility company delays in removing poles caused construction deadlines to be repeatedly missed and pushed back, but now the project is virtually complete.

Most everyone who had to travel the road during construction is happy to see it finished, but not every business was hurt so badly it had to relocate.

Debra Smith is an office manager with 12 years of experience at Crawford Chiropractic right off the Cloud Springs Road exit of Interstate 75. The project was an annoyance, she said, but most all of the practice's clients -- some of whom had been coming for 20 years -- weren't deterred by the sometimes treacherous roads.

Construction was distressing for some elderly patients.

"Some of the patients on Medicare had trouble," she said.

Smith said the practice has had a small uptick in client interest since construction ended.

Since moving back, Dewberry said Take & Bake has seen a huge increase in the number of its patrons.

Stephen Shaw was able to reap the benefits of the road widening without having to suffer through the traffic, dust and noise. He opened Shaw Dental Health in March, and said his location has made starting a business easier.

"Starting up a business in this economy is scary, but being in a good location makes it palatable," he said. "It's refreshing to say, 'Just jump off the interstate.'"