Never ending construction. It’s the last thing drivers want to hear: Work on Ulmerton Road is delayed….again.
Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe the sentiment along Ulmerton Road.
“Get it done already,” Mity Nice Cafe owner Sandy Venetos said in exasperation.
Drivers dodge cones along the congested street, as businesses owners cling to the hope they’ll stay open.
Construction on Ulmerton has stretched out more than a decade, plagued by delays, fired contractors and now, more bad news. Construction crews discovered underground utility conflicts that weren’t marked, which is setting the project back several months.
“Ugh! It’s killing everybody,” Gabe Raffinan exclaimed. Just today, Raffinan’s boss made up his mind: He’s selling VaPour, his vape and beer shop along Ulmerton. 70 percent of their customers are gone.
“They’re like 'no you’re on Ulmerton, I’m not coming down there.' I’m like wow,” Raffinan added.
Across the street, Venetos can count her regular customers on one hand.
“I’ve lost the majority of my customers," she said with a sigh.
The traffic jams up her employees making deliveries and since most of her customers come during their lunch break, they don’t have enough time to wait through traffic.
“We try to make light of it all but there’s no words. It’s terrible."
Venetos was told the construction would last about 6 months when she signed her lease. Now, 3 years later....construction is still in full swing.
FDOT spokesperson Kris Carson urges drivers and businesses to be patient, "We all are anxious for this project to be complete. Bear with us, the job will be done by the end of the year."
The only sticking point: FDOT's schedule does not build in any weather delays. That means if we have another rainy summer, you guessed it: more delays.
Eventually when work is finished, Ulmerton road will be safer and less congested, but business owners and drivers wonder how much more they can take.
Venetos says she’s not holding her breath.
“There’s no way it'll get done by December. It’s just a bunch of chaos.”