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Ferndale, Berkley not seeing business decline from I-696 construction

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 9, 2018

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FERNDALE/BERKLEY — The construction on Interstate 696 has been ongoing since the spring and is expected to continue until the end of 2018.

As with any construction project, there is concern that shutdowns and lane closures could have an adverse effect on business in a city’s downtown.

While much of the I-696 construction has been between Interstates 75 and 94, eastbound I-696 has been closed for roadwork from Telegraph Road to I-75.

Berkley Downtown Development Authority Director Vivian Carmody said she doesn’t believe construction has had an effect on the businesses in the city.

“I don’t think that it’s impacted our shopping at all,” she said. “Our events still see pretty strong (attendance). … I can’t say it’s impacted us. I’m sure it’s impacted those towns and cities that are east of 75, but for the most part, we’re in pretty good shape.”

Carmody further said she doesn’t think business has been affected because it’s easy to drive up Woodward Avenue to Berkley.

“I commute from Detroit — downtown Detroit — so I find 696 actually pretty easy. I take 75 north to 696 and zip on over, so actually the construction has made my commute easier, because there’s less traffic coming from the east,” she said.

On the other side of 696, Chris Beasley, assistant manager of One-Eyed Betty’s in Ferndale, Beasley said he also hasn’t noticed a decline in business — other than the normal summer slowdown — due to traffic.

Beasley actually believes the construction has been able to increase business.

“We maybe get some more business because … we’re right off Nine Mile (Road), and that’s a road people tend to take,” he said. “If they live in this area instead of taking the freeway, we actually get a lot more natural business that way.”

Even this past week, Beasley said, he had noticed an increase in business, without many new customers coming in. He said this could be because people are avoiding the highway and going through the city instead.

“You can’t really take the freeway anymore, so I think it brings more business to people because they pass by it now, as opposed to just taking the freeway and not knowing it’s there,” he said.