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COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Some business owners in Columbus County are hoping the saying "out of sight, out of mind" isn't the case when it comes to their customers.
A construction project on Highway 211 is detouring drivers and potential customers from area businesses, just as the summer beach season is about to heat up.
Normally, people driving down Highway 74/76 in the town of Bolton have the option of turning down Highway 211, which takes them through the Bolton community.
Or, they can take another part of Highway 211, which takes them to Bladen County. But due to finalizing a road project, the intersection will be closed for two months.
Some business owners say that the road closure is blocking some of their business.
"That's tough, with this being the peak season for tourists going to the beach," said Jerry Robinson of Robinson Produce Farm.
Fruits and vegetables are on display at the farm's main location. Robinson says construction work on an interchange down the street has put a limit on the number of customers he sees.
"The road project, actually for a couple of years, doing prep work has affected us greatly," he said. "But now that they've actually did the closer last week, it's actually knocked us back as much as 80 percent."
There's a detour, but Robinson says customers now have to drive nearly 10 miles to get the crops he's spent all year working to produce.
"It's just tough," he said. "It's your livelihood, and this is what you do. For the state to decide to pick the peak season, I know there's not a good time. But it's frustrating.
Freeman's Grill, Gas and Grocery Store is also feeling the impact.
"Business right now has slowed down since closing 211," said owner Ruth Freeman. "Prior to that, we were getting drivers from 74/76 coming through 242…also 214."
Freeman adds that her business is down 30 percent.
"I'm going to have to cut hours," she said. "It really makes me sad because it's not about me. I have a job. It's about the young people who work here. Disabled children who have a work place."
Drew Cox, the Department of Transportation district engineer for Columbus County says construction work is scheduled to be completed in two months.
But, if it's completed sooner, the intersection will be reopened ahead of time.
Cox also says Highway 242 at the new interchange in Evergreen should open by next week.
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