Businesses want compensation for crippling GRTC Pulse Project construction

Businesses want compensation for crippling GRTC Pulse Project construction

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many businesses along West Broad Street say the construction of the GRTC Bus Pulse Project is crippling them. Now, Richmond City council member Kim Gray is looking to see if they should be compensated.

Dozens of local/small business owners gathered at The Broadberry Wednesday afternoon for a meeting called by Gray. They were there asking for answers from GRTC and wanted to know more about the possibility of compensation.

While a launch date has not yet been set, GRTC says construction must be done by June 30, 2018 or the contractor will face a penalty fine of $4,450/per day.

Gary Thaxton, who owns Chapman's Auto Repair on West Broad Street, attended the meeting. The repair shop has been at the same location for four decades...that was until GRTC started the Bus Pulse Project last year.

"They didn't bother to tell us, while we were discussing it, that they were going to be putting a station right here at Mulberry Street, which is the main way you get to my business," says Thaxton. "They got that totally blocked off."

Making it harder to get into his parking lot, Thaxton says his business lost tens of thousand of dollars. It got so bad, they just moved  to another part of the city.

He's not alone. Dozens of small business owners have similar concerns. They say increased traffic, blocked entrances and limited parking are to blame for some places shutting down, scaling back expenses and moving.

City council member Gray says she's looking for answers, including compensation.

"I want to look at what other jurisdictions have done," she said. "There have been some micro loans, there are some grants in other places when there are ongoing construction projects of this type."

Gray also says the city gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to GRTC for operational costs. She's looking to see if they can get it back.

"We are exploring every economic opportunity there is," she said. "There's also money that was put in the budget for Pulse operations. Obviously the Pulse hasn't been operating. That was about $700,000 in this current budget, so I'm exploring every option."

In the meantime, $200,000 in city and state dollars has been been spent on a campaign called PulseRVA.com to make sure people know businesses on Broad are open.

VDOT is partnering with GRTC on this project. NBC12 asked VDOT about the possibility about compensation and was given this statement:

As has been previously stated when this recommendation was originally put forth, this is a GRTC and City of Richmond project that VDOT agreed to manage the project delivery.

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