St. Paul Street construction delays affecting businesses

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The chain link fences have become a common sight for people who work on St. Paul Street and construction delays are also hurting some businesses.

At the intersection of King and St. Paul streets, you'll find the Perky Planet coffee shop. The owner, Richard Vaughn, says the construction is hitting them hard.

"Business is about a quarter of what we predicted," he said.

Vaughn scheduled the grand opening of the shop around the time construction was expected to be completed. Now, he found out the construction deadline has been pushed back once again, doubling the original length of time.

The total time for this project was supposed to be 140 days, with a finish date in August. Now they are looking at 300 days.

"It’s going 100 percent more than what they originally said-- that’s beyond delays. There is something else going on and we don't know what that is," Vaughn said.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger says he's excited about the project and thinks the public will be, too. It includes new landscaping and a system to for stormwater. He says there's a lot you can’t see, like what’s happening underground.

"Electric wires are going underground and all the other utilities underground are being rebuilt, which will help us with our lake protection efforts," said Weinberger, D-Burlington.

He says delays are normal with underground construction.

"There were some surprises found underground. There were four fuel storage tanks that weren’t expected that were encountered, there were some other complications with the water connections that were discovered," Weinberger said.

But Perky Planet's owner isn't convinced.

"I know those don't take three to four months to remedy. That can't be the answer," Vaughn said.

He says when St. Paul Street doesn't have construction, it sees about 1,500 pedestrians a day. He says the loss of that foot traffic is more than disappointing and that he may have to start thinking about cutting employees.

"That's not fair for my employees and it's not like we did anything wrong. We are here trying to conduct business and hire people with disabilities," Vaughn said.

Even though construction is expected to be completed by August, Vaughn isn't confident in that deadline and is worried it will be closer to September.