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Your Stories Investigation: Slow road work hurting businesses in Vista

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VISTA (NEWS 8) – A construction project on roadways in the North County is creating some big problems for several companies.

For Keith Fournier, it is not a case of sour grapes. It’s a real fear – that his wine centric restaurant is being forced out of business by a huge road improvement project along south Santa Fe Avenue in Vista.

“Despite what you see behind me, completely blocking my restaurant from view, I am open. Don’t let it fool you. I am open,” said Fournier.

Fournier has been posting videos on the Partake Gastropub’s Facebook page to try and save his business. “We were doing well until the construction started.”

Fournier knew the construction was coming. The plan to improve a section of South Santa Fe has been in the works for years, and it’s expected to look great when it is finished.

Phase one, just few blocks away from Fournier’s restaurant, has already been completed. There is now an entry sign that welcomes visitors to the Vista downtown district named Paseo Santa Fe. A new roundabout with art slows down cars and more roundabouts are expected to be installed soon. The idea is to make the area more attractive to pedestrians.

The nicer sidewalks and new landscaping that are planned will no doubt help Fournier’s business – if it is still around when the project is finished. “The problem is people are avoiding the area because of the construction. This is a two-year project, not a six-week project. It’s two years before they are done.

To make matters worse, Fournier is one of several owners who said the construction crews are not helping the situation because they are leaving equipment and pipes in front of businesses on the weekends – when no work is taking place.

Vista city officials recently offered businesses a road construction toolkit with tips to survive the construction. Those tips include: “secure a good line of credit,” “keep your staff lean,” and “reduce inventory.” City officials also said they are working to improve communication with businesses and have offered an incentive to the construction that will hopefully get this all finished earlier than originally anticipated.

“I don’t expect them to stop construction, but I expect them to do whatever it takes to make me succeed,” said Fournier.

Phase two of the project is scheduled to run through March 2020.

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