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Van Ness Avenue Construction Delays Plague Business Owners

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The Van Ness Avenue improvement project has been underway for two years now, and some business owners say it is now hurting their bottom line.

Fencing surrounds many properties, and it's hard to even know who's open for business.

Masaye Waugh is desperately trying to keep Bootleg Bar and Kitchen open, but the construction zone outside along Van Ness is pushing customers away ...

"It looks like a construction trash heap," Waugh told KPIX 5.

It didn't help when workers poured fresh concrete all around her door.

"Yesterday, my entrance was completely sealed off. There wasn't even a way to get into my business," Waugh said. "So I had to call SFMTA and say, 'Can you guys provide an entrance?'"

Nearby, Ahmed Ibrahim of Helmand Palace has also been impacted by the continuing work.

"They put the bathroom in front of our restaurant," Ibrahim said. "Right in front of my door, yeah."

The project eventually plans to bring transportation improvements. Buses will be streamlined to the middle lane of Van Ness, so traffic can run more smoothly.

Van Ness Improvement Project
Artist's rendering of the SFMTA Van Ness Improvement Project. (CBS)

But there is a significant delay of more than a year.

"It was originally slated to be completed by 2019, now it's slated to be completed very early in 2021," said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose. "There were abandoned utilities underground that we were not expecting."

Before ripping those utilities out, they had to test each one individually to find out if they are still providing service.

Waugh said she's not ready to give up. She is hoping her landlord will cut her a break, and hoping more customers will brave the obstacle course for Wing Wednesdays.

"We have comedy on Friday and Saturday nights, we have trivia on Thursdays, Mexican bingo on Tuesdays. We're open for business, so please come," Waugh said.

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