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Speedway, Red Pepper deal with road project on 42nd Street

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Manager Kenny Rasmussen has described his employer, Speedway 805 Grill & Bar, as "off the beaten path."

This summer, his metaphor becomes reality as the city rips apart the path to Speedway's front two entrances, North 42nd Street.

Speedway is one of several roadside businesses affected by construction this summer. Along with other city projects, like the one planned for Washington Street, the city of Grand Forks is working on North 39th Street, 27th Avenue North and Adams Drive, using in part money from the April sales tax increase.

City engineer Mike Yavarow predicts CPS Ltd., the engineering firm in charge, will finish phase one on 42nd in three weeks and start the second phase in two weeks.

"There have been some holdups," Yavarow said, citing issues with weather and utilities. "But I'm pretty sure we're going to get back on track here."

Speedway sits between the second and third phases, an advantage owners and management worked out after talks with Yavarow and CPS engineer Deon Wawrzyniak. This means at least one Speedway entrance on 42nd will be open at all times this summer. The restaurant also shares parking lot access with the apartment behind it, so customers can take 43rd Street and avoid traffic.

"To be truthful with you, I thought this was going to affect us more than it has," Rasmussen said. "It's too soon to judge how it is. As far as our numbers go, we're the same as last year."

Another local business on 42nd, the Red Pepper at Campus Place, is less comfortable with construction. Although it's further down the road ― Yavarow said Red Pepper won't officially lose 42nd Street access until September ― owner Nicki Tellmann said she's already noticed a decrease in sales at their Campus Place location, due to a number of detour signs posted at intersections where 42nd is still supposed to be open.

"If you live in Grand Forks and you know your way around here, you know you can come in," Tellmann said. "But for those people who want to try Red Pepper for the first time, they see these signs and say 'Oh, crap! It's closed.'"

After comparing business at Campus Place with business at other Red Pepper locations, Tellmann said business has gone down 35 percent.

"We've called the city, and we've called CPS, saying 'can we please not reroute construction right off the bat?" While the city said it couldn't do anything ― it's a state project following state laws, said city communication specialist John Bernstrom ― Wawrzyniak told Tellmann she could put up her own small yard signs, which is what he said Speedway has done. Tellmann and her husband plan to post signs saying the Red Pepper is still open at intersections near detour signs.

Update:

An original version of this story referred to the 42nd St. project as belonging to the North Dakota Department of Transportation. The project is receiving federal funding from NDDOT, but it's a city project. 

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