LYNCHBURG, Va. – As pizzeria workers slice and dice inside Benny Scarpetta’s on Main Street, construction crews continue slicing and dicing the roadway outside.
Lynchburg’s Main Street Renewal Project has taken a toll on traffic between 8th and 12th Street over the past year. The purpose is to replace infrastructure underground. But in recent months, businesses like Benny Scarpetta’s have hit another roadblock: COVID-19.
“I would say we probably dropped about a third of our normal business from this time maybe two years ago,” said Raven Miles, manager of Benny Scarpetta’s.
To-go and online orders are keeping the pizzeria afloat, while some businesses have shut their doors temporarily or even for good.
Rodney Taylor, owner of Market at Main, says the combination of COVID-19 and construction is unlike anything he’s seen in his 11 years.
“It’s been the toughest year we’ve had since we opened. It’s been extremely difficult, but we’re hanging in there,” Taylor said.
But COVID-19 hasn’t impacted construction. In fact, project manager Jim Talian tells 10 News coronavirus helped them make progress.
“It’s actually been a little bit easier because the pedestrian traffic has been way down, and the vehicular traffic has been way down.”
Talian says they’re targeting June 2021 — two months ahead of schedule — partly because sanitary sewers do not have to be replaced after all.
Two-thousand feet of new water and electric lines are almost complete. Next are sidewalks and paving the streets.
Their short-term goal is to open the 800 block by Thanksgiving, the 1000 block by Christmas, then 900 and 1100 blocks early next year.
Businesses have faith in the future of Main Street.
“The goal is that it brings in more business and to hear that it’s already on track is super, super nice,” Miles said.
“The streetscape’s going to look much nicer, and I think downtown is close to do really well when all of this is over,” Taylor added.
Facing bumps in a road now for better business on the road ahead.