Pearl City merchants blame rail work for slumping sales

Pearl City merchants blame rail work for slumping sales

PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow)

Merchants along Kamehameha Highway in Pearl City complain that rail construction is costing them money. Some said their revenue has fallen 20 to 50 percent.

Youngseon Ikeda's massage business is on the 800 block. Her sales have plummeted 60 percent or more.

"This month I don't know yet. But September, August were really bad. I don't think like that keep continues, I don't think I'm going to survive," she said.

Billy Reichling manages Easy Music Center. He said lane closures and restricted turns are a double whammy.

"One of the main problems is all the U turns to get to our store are just blocked off for some reason. They're just coned off," he said.

Rail builders are relocating utilities along the highway during non-peak traffic hours.

"HART and the contractor have been regularly updating area businesses about construction-related lane closures and will follow up with them on other construction mitigation measures," said Scott Ishikawa of Honolulu Rail Transit Project's Public Involvement Team.

He said the contractor has provided signage to help mark any new or temporary entrances to businesses.

"Specific directional signage has also been installed to help stores inform their customers that they remain open for business," he said.

Reichling hasn't calculated the dollar impact, but he said his work flow is out of rhythm.

"A lot of people are putting stuff on hold that were supposed to come in. They say, 'I have to come in tomorrow because the traffic was just too brutal,'" he said.

Hawaii News Now spoke with about a dozen merchants on Kamehameha highway. All blame rail for slumping sales. Ikeda said she feels it every day.

"I do a lot of appointment work. And they're jammed in the traffic. They're late and postpone it," she said.

Ishikawa said HART is frequently updating businesses on traffic impacts and encouraging rail workers to frequent the businesses along Kamehameha highway. There is no mechanism to reimburse merchants who lose money because of rail construction. The work on the utilities will continue through the end of the year.

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