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Construction On Twin Peaks Tunnel Hurting West Portal Businesses

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Work on the Twin Peaks Muni tunnel is scaring away customers along West Portal Avenue in San Francisco.

On Thursday, KPIX 5 talked to business owners about how much they're hurting.

Annabelle Hernandez is the manager of the family-owned shop "Easy Freezy" on West Portal Avenue. She said business is so slow that employees often have nothing to do.

"Nobody is coming. It's really bad. Right now, we're cleaning and scrubbing the floors," said Hernandez.

Hernandez said that they usually see a long line of customers during their busy times. But now, they're lucky to see just a few people. Their sales have gone down less than 50 percent, and they're losing money every day.

"What can you do?" asked Hernandez. "Without the parking, without the Muni?"

There's a reason for the recent absence of customers. Construction workers are repairing the 100-year-old Twin Peaks Tunnel, replacing the tunnel's drainage system and tracks and making seismic upgrades to the West Portal Station.

Now, instead of customer parking spots in front of businesses on the northbound side of West Portal Avenue, construction vehicles have taken over. As a result, businesses are struggling. They want everyone to know that they're still open.

"They don't even think that we're open, so they just walk right past us," said Nancy Vera, a shift lead at the restaurant Lemonade. "A lot of them actually even come up to the door and just look inside to see if we're open."

Lemonade is now closing an hour earlier, at 8 p.m. They're sending their employees home early since business is so bad.

"That's really sad to me; to have to send people home just because, due to this construction, we don't have that many sales," said Vera.

The SFMTA said they have staff on site every day to address the concerns of business owners. They have also put up signs informing the public that the shops and restaurants are open. Meanwhile, the ongoing construction is scheduled to continue for another month.

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