Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 News
Businesses impacted by the Hulen Street Bridge construction in Fort Worth finally see a ray of hope as another lane opens to traffic.
Business owners are breathing a sigh of relief as news of traffic improvements along the Hulen Street Bridge in Fort Worth spreads. The opening of another lane of traffic could mean fewer table openings at some lunch time spots.
For 40 years Swiss Pastry Shop has called Vickery Boulevard home. Owner Hans Peter Muller, who took over for his father, knows everything about the business especially how to put together their specialty, black forest cake. But last year was a first.
"This is the first time since the very beginning that the business has been in the red," Muller said. "And we had periods where we didn't know if we were going to be able to make ends meet in October and September because lunch business was off terribly."
Business was off eight to ten percent last year and Muller believes the culprit is the construction up the street on the Hulen Bridge.
"I can't say, scientifically, it's all do to the bridge," Muller said, "but we have people come in every Saturday and tell us they can't get to us anymore during the week because they'd be caught in traffic during the week."
The work started in April 2010 and whether it's office workers on their lunch breaks or nearby residents, they know the slow down all too well.
"It could take me 10 minutes to get over the bridge or 30 minutes to get over the bridge," Jeannie Sorgen said. "It definitely impacts me on my time."
While there is still plenty of time before the new bridge and the Chisholm Trail Parkway open, the city and North Texas Tollway Authority will try to improve conditions later this month by opening an additional north bound lane of Hulen near the Vickery intersection.
"We'll see, it sounds like it will help, I hope it helps," Sorgen said.
"Hopefully people will be able to get us and even if that means 30 or 40 people a day coming to lunch that's a big impact on a small business," Muller said.
Muller gladly posted the news on the shop's Facebook page, proclaiming "Hallelujah!!! Relief is sight!" And when the new bridge finally opens, that will be the icing on the cake for everyone.
"We'll be really grateful when Hulen Bridge opens back up," Muller said.
A storm line will be built before that extra lane is added. The new bridge and Chisholm Trail Parkway will all be open by mid-2014.