Colorado Street business blames road construction on its demise


by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News and Photojournalist DEREK RASOR

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Posted on October 4, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 5 at 7:30 AM

AUSTIN -- A downtown Austin restaurant owner is blaming road construction improvements to Colorado Street for killing his business. 

This weekend Maria Maria, a Mexican restaurant on Colorado Street between 4th and 5th streets, was forced to shut its doors. 

The struggling business and even thriving establishments around it are complaining about a lack of access to their businesses because of road construction. 

“Normally before construction we'd have 30 or 40 people in here for Happy Hour. I looked at my numbers the other day and the last two months my sales were down a combined $65,000 from this same period last year,” said Michael Girard, owner of Ten Oak, a Colorado Street lounge specializing in Bourbon and Whiskey. 

In April the City of Austin’s Public Works Department began road improvements to Colorado between 5th and 3rd Streets as part of the “Great Streets Bond Package” approved by voters in 2006. 

Plans call for the widening of sidewalks making them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (A.D.A.).

There will also be beautification projects which will add trees and benches, and those are just changes on the surface. 

“A lot of our streets in the downtown area are aging and we have to go in and not only work on the street surface, but below the surface on some of the utilities, the aging utilities and things that need to be improved or moved,” said Sara Hartley with Austin’s Public Works Department.

In October the city will move the road construction north on Colorado to make way for the thousands expected to pack into downtown for Formula 1 festivities.

Ten Oak’s owner said on Oct. 15 the construction in front of his business will be gone, which he hopes brings the customers back.

“The customers haven't stopped going out eating and drinking. They've just gone somewhere else so we've got to work hard to get our customers back,” said Girard.