The downtown Mission area along Johnson Drive has a new nickname: the orange cone district.
It's a nickname Sandi Russell, the owner of Twisted Sister Coffee Shop, came up with to cope with the massive street reconstruction right outside her door.
"It's a huge job and it's long overdue," she said. "We just take it one day at a time and we're doing pretty good."
Contractors are replacing sewer and drainage lines, resurfacing the street and replacing sidewalks. Entire blocks between Nall Avenue and Lamar Avenue have been shut down for days at a time.
Some businesses were closed during the project's early days in late December, which cut into Christmas sales. Since the holidays, traffic has slowed even more.
In many cases there are very few places to park, and walk-in customers haven't been coming in as fast because of the construction work. Dan Smith, the owner of Vintage Mission Antique Store, said he is down to half his usual customers.
"There's no question it's impacting it," Smith said. "We're trying to make the best of it. We're trying some construction sales and trying to draw some folks in."
But Smith said the city had been very open in its communication with him and other businesses. It has made it easier for him to plan marketing strategies and communicate with customers.
Mission Public Works Director John Belger said the city is trying to minimize the project's harm to businesses.
"We try to be mindful of what's going on there," he said. "And we try to keep access open to those places at all times."
Russell said there have been a few annoyances in the course of the project. Tuesday morning her café lost electricity when contractors accidentally knocked out power to several shops along Johnson.
But she said that any business she has lost has been made up by road crews stopping by for a cup of java.
"We look at it like the orange cones are not a problem or a deterrent," she said. "It's a sign of progress."
Construction will wrap up in November.
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