Construction project taking toll on business owners in Queens

MIDDLE VILLAGE, Queens (WABC) -- A group of small businesses in Queens are furious that a construction project outside their doors is delayed, costing them customers.

For 13 years, the dinner rush was packed at 6:30 at Tropical Restaurant in Middle Village.

But not anymore, and Steven Vinas doesn't know how long he can keep the place open.

"I'm sinking," he said. "I don't know what to do, I really don't know what to do."

The problem is a construction project right outside his door that snarls traffic and blocks off parking spaces for potential customers.

Cars seem to sit forever idling away the time, waiting for the traffic agents to finally wave them through.

The construction started more than a year ago, and a few months ago work just stopped. Nobody knows when it might start up again.

"It's my employees too, it trickles down," said Vinas. "Everybody's got families, we all have kids, it's a nightmare."

And not just for Tropical. Eddie Bloom owns a strip mall across the street.

"It's crushing because people just aren't gonna come here," he said. "People are avoiding this particular area because it's too inconvenient to move around."

The tables are empty at Tropical, but the mortgage is due and payroll comes Friday.

"I have a loyal staff, they were with me for 13 years and this is my baby," Steven said. He wants to keep paying everyone and wants to get through this, but he doesn't know if his customers are coming back.

"This is a sinking ship, am I gonna go down with the ship?", he said.

The Department of Transportation issued a statement about the construction project:
"As you know, safety is our number one priority. Mugrose was determined to be the lowest responsible bidder per NYC PPB rules, and their experience and qualifications were deemed satisfactory per NYC PPB rules. Mugrose also explained their bid numbers to DOTs satisfaction; therefore they were awarded the bid. The contractor was in default of the terms of performance in the contract, and the contractor's bonding agency is in the process of rebidding the project to a contractor who will complete remaining work. Discussions continue with all involved parties and a new schedule will be submitted after the new firm is under contract."
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