The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce met with nearly 30 businesses over the last week near a busy intersection to help them overcome obstacles created by a massive road construction project there.
The $6.8 million, six-month project, which started in early November, will widen all four left-turn lanes at the intersection of Warner and Cooper roads from one lane to two lanes. The work will be paid for with a half-cent sales tax approved by Maricopa County voters in 2004. Until construction wraps up in early summer, traffic will be constricted from two lanes to one.
Many business owners have complained they're taking big revenue hits as a result.
Anthony Hall, store manager at Play It Again Sports in Bayshore Plaza on the northwest corner of the intersection, said he received a packet of information from the chamber that contained tips he wasn't aware of.
Hall said his store is taking advantage of a provision that allows it to display an A-frame sign.
"It's killed us," he said of the roadwork. "I have regulars that tell me they don't even come here unless they know they need to buy something."
"I probably see half the customers I used to without the construction," he added.
The message chamber officials delivered while canvassing the area is merchants need not stand idly by and watch their customer base evaporate.
The chamber passed out 8.5-by-11-inch fliers and other materials full of ideas to 26 merchants. For example, business owners don't need permits to post banners during ongoing construction projects. They can also display A-frame signs without obtaining permits and employ sign-walkers or sign-twirlers.
Chamber officials several years ago won more lenient sign regulations for owners struggling with construction.
"A lot of them didn't know about the additional signage that was available during the construction," Chamber president Kathy Tilque said.
Tilque said business owners in the area are not only contending with the traffic problems but alsothe ongoing issue of the economy.
She said word is spreading quickly about the additional sign options available to businesses.
"It looks like this weekend four banners have gone up to help some of those businesses, so I think that it was definitely a worthwhile venture for us," she said.
Gilbert spokeswoman Beth Lucas said the town is grateful for the chamber's assistance.
"We encourage residents to continue to shop Gilbert and support our local businesses, while keeping safe on the roads," she said in an e-mail. "The patience and support expressed by the chamber, businesses and residents is truly appreciated and will help lead to a positive outcome of improved roads and greater commerce as the town grows."