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Valley Metro helping small businesses affected by new light rail construction

Valley Metro planners said they are trying to reassure local businesses along the expanding light rail line that construction is moving as fast as possible. They say lessons learned from the light rail’s first phase of construction should help this time around.

The light rail is being extended north on 19th Avenue from Montebello to Dunlap. Detour signs and construction crews are evidence this $300 million project is under way.

It will be another two and a half years before the light rail rolls up to Dunlap. As long as that is, planners say this time around, the construction is more coordinated.

"We really tried to avoid having construction as far as length, we tried to condense it. We’re not opening a trench...they do their work and then they’re done and then we come in and do our work," Howard Steere of Valley Metro said. "We’re actually working together, and it really does minimize the amount of time it takes to do the work in the streets."

That may save some time, but up at 19th Avenue and Glendale, Joe’s Barbershop is empty. Alla Isikova is a Russian immigrant  who owns the shop that is named after her husband. She has cut hair at Joe’s for seven years but said business dropped noticeably when the construction began.

"Of course I’m worried, this is my business. I have to pay the rent, feed my kids, get on my life," Isikova said. "You know, it’s a business."

Isikova said she is now open seven days a week to squeeze a little extra profit out of her shop.

Valley Metro and the City of Phoenix are helping local businesses with marketing.

Meanwhile in downtown Mesa, construction was postponed on that route until the tourist season was over so businesses there would not suffer as much.