With each movement of the excavator, pieces of the former Los Tapatios Mexican restaurant were taken down to make way for the viaduct expansion project. The noisy work has business owners in the area on edge about what will happen next.
The project involves the demolition and replacement of the existing U.S. Highway 77 viaduct with a northbound bridge, as well as the construction of a new parallel bridge to the west for southbound traffic. The project would also reconstruct areas near Elm and Monroe Streets to provide a couplet system that would tie into the proposed bridges. Each bridge would allow for one-way traffic.
Several businesses will be affected by the construction including Pearman Oil and L.P. Gas, H&H Grocery, The Red Barn Flea Market and Cabinet Specialists. The Mike Moy Tire Shop has already closed in anticipation of the project.
Across the street from the demolition is H&H Grocery, which has been part of the community since 1949. Janet Napps’ family has operated it since 1986.
Napps stated she knows that the project is needed to help ease traffic congestion and to help with growth but feels that a portion of the community will be lost.
“When they started throwing the fence down my heart sank because it is just getting closer and closer,” Napps said. “It did make me feel kind of sad to know that they put something into a building and did so much and now it is going to be gone.”
Napps stated she is uncertain whether she is going to reopen at another location or find a job at another business. She noted a lot of her life is connected with the store and the customers she serves.
“I am kind of torn. I am torn about the fact that I want to be there for my customers. At the same time I don’t know if I will be able to move and do it,” Napps said. “I know they are going to pay us to do it, but they are not going to pay for everything. I’m on the line whether to reopen or not. I don’t know what I am going to do. My heart tells me I want to open, but my body tells me that I need to close.“