Business Owners Fume Over Light Rail Construction

Construction for LAX light rail extension will continue for another six weeks

By Mateo Melero and Conan Nolan
|  Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014  |  Updated 10:02 PM PDT
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The ongoing Metro Rail project in the Crenshaw District is expected to help businesses in the long run, but has shop owners worried about their business during construction. Conan Nolan reports from the Crenshaw District for the NBC4 News at 6 on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.

Conan Nolan, Khallid Shabazz

The ongoing Metro Rail project in the Crenshaw District is expected to help businesses in the long run, but has shop owners worried about their business during construction. Conan Nolan reports from the Crenshaw District for the NBC4 News at 6 on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.

Business owners are complaining that construction from a $2 billion light rail extension project is hurting business.

Owners along Crenshaw Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in South Los Angeles say materials are blocking store fronts and driving customers away.

"We are all going to go out of business," said Gerald Duncan, who runs Malai Hair Products.

It's almost hard to tell that there's a strip of stores behind a green wall of tarp -- with no parking available -- between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Stocker Street.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that it has requested clear tarp be placed along the fence line and plans to meet with owners to resolve the parking issue.

"It doesn’t make sense. We are building the line to help with business along this corridor,” said Manny Dubois, a spokesman for Metro. "It’s no good if we wipe out those businesses in the process.”

Owners said that the construction has been going on for two months and that the project looks nowhere near finished.

"When I came back to open the store on Saturday, I was truly shocked," Duncan said . "It looked like a prison." 

Construction began on Monday and scaffolding will be removed in six weeks, according to a Metro press release. The project is scheduled  from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the rest of the week and then will be on a 24-hour schedule until completion.

Owners have asked for compensation as the construction continues to isolate business along the South LA street, but Metro said that there is no money available for the businesses.

"I have to pay my rent," Excel Fashions owner Beatrice Eyo said. "This is my source of income."

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