Businesses doing well after the bypass opening

By: Carol Percy, Reporter
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After 40 years of anticipation, the Highway 65 Bypass became a reality on Oct. 7, 2012. A year later, The News Messenger asked residents how the bypass affected local businesses.

Before the bypass was constructed, according to former Lincoln City Councilman and former Placer County Transportation Planning Agency member Tom Cosgrove, some residents “feared the bypass would cut off local businesses and destroy” the commercial town center.

“There was fear that when the bypass opened up, that Lincoln would become a ghost town,” Cosgrove said. “That’s happened in a lot of places when a bypass comes through a town, the downtown center just shuts down.”

That didn’t happen to Lincoln because the city wasn’t dependent on traffic from outside of town, according to Cosgrove.

“Because Lincoln’s economy and its downtown didn’t depend on drive-through traffic, it’s always been a local downtown and a community,” Cosgrove said. “Just looking at how many parking spots in town are full (today) tells you the downtown is vibrant.”

Lincoln Mayor Stan Nader said Tuesday that “sales are up all over downtown Lincoln and businesses appear to be doing well.

“From what I’ve heard, there’s a marked increase in foot traffic and businesses like Awful Annie’s said their business is up 20 percent,” Nader said. “Before they closed, Ace Hardware (the Lincoln Boulevard location) said their business was up 35 percent. And McDonald’s on Lincoln Boulevard said they’re busier than ever.”

In addition, Nader said, residents have told him that “they feel safer and it’s easier to get around town” since the bypass opened.

“I just believe, over time, we’re going to see more activity in this area of the city,” Nader said. “There’s a continued interest in businesses opening in the downtown.”

Wayne Sisneroz, the Downtown Lincoln Association president, said the city is “becoming more citizen-friendly” since the bypass diverted heavy traffic away from the town’s center.

“I think we’re seeing many benefits because Lincoln Boulevard has become more walk-able. The bypass allowed the public to feel safer and more comfortable visiting the shops downtown,” Sisneroz said Monday.

Jackie Richardson, owner of Route 65 Trading Post, an antiques and collectibles business at 631 Lincoln Blvd., said she “has been in the black since day one.

“We just hit our one-year anniversary on Oct. 18 and the town has welcomed me from the beginning,” Richardson said. “I took over the building just after the bypass went in so I wondered how that would affect my new business.”

When the traffic through downtown diminished, Richardson said, “the locals” began to shop in her area.

“Customers told me that before the bypass went in, they had refused to come down (to Lincoln Boulevard) because of the traffic so they were unaware that a business similar to mine had been sitting here for a year before I came in,” she said.

Richardson said her store “rescues the past and brings it back to the present.

“I’ve been doing great. I’ve never had a negative month. I’m surviving on loyal customers and word-of-mouth. Everybody seems to find me,” Richardson said.