Business owners say rail construction is blocking customers

AIEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For some businesses in Aiea and Pearl City, the reality of rail is fewer customers, and a lot more stress. It's a familiar complaint along Kamehameha Highway. The entrance for four businesses located at 98-265 Kamehameha Highway is now completely blocked by rail construction. Instead the exit is also being used as an entrance. "Rail has affected our business a lot. I dare say in the last 20 years rail is the biggest threat to my continued existence as a small business owner here in Hawaii," said Ryan Lung, Mobile Car Audio Owner. Hart contractors are widening the highway. They have put up signs to help mark the new entrance, but the owners say it's not enough. Ryan Lung at Mobile Car Audio was a supporter of rail, but not anymore saying the barriers are blocking business. "I think now physically seeing the changes that the construction has on businesses especially small businesses like me I'm not sure it's a burden I can bare," said Lung. "We're doing about 25 percent of what we usually do. Not 25 percent down, 25 percent of what we usually do so 75 percent down." The entrance has been blocked a month and will be that way through the end of the year. There are four separate businesses on the property. Can they survive? "That's the continued question I ask myself. I employ five people that depend on this business including myself to make a livelihood. We're trying our best. We put smiles on, but sometimes it feel like an uphill battle," said Lung. "It's just such a barrier to my business." "Because it's blocking our entrance people are having a hard time to find our business. They think we're closed because of the construction in front of here," said Channon Narvaez, Auto Detail Kings Owner. "I could stay in business but I would want to do better," said Alan Takeshita, Alan of Hawaii Glass Tinting Owner. "With all change you just have to work through it. We'll make the best of it. If we keep a positive outlook it will go alright for us I think," May Pinheiro, Advanced Auto Detail Owner. Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (Hart) representative Scott Ishikawa visited the site yesterday to hear concerns. Hart won't compensate businesses for lost revenue, but at least one construction worker brought in his truck to get detailed. The owners say once the customers miss the entrance they're not coming back to fight traffic again. Hart says it will work with the business owners to try and improve signage so that doesn't happen.

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