College Avenue is closed between Broadway and 13th Street for the next month, and some University Hill merchants -- still open for business -- are concerned about the impact.
"It's slow already, and this makes it even worse," said Alex Luttrelo, owner of College Corner, a vendor of University of Colorado merchandise. "At least during the summer, we have some tourist activity, and they're doing orientation on campus. If they look down the street and see this, they're going to assume the whole street is blocked."
The city of Boulder is doing a two-phased project that involves water line replacement and street reconstruction. The project is funded through a combination of voter-approved bond funds and the transportation department's annual budget for road repairs.
The water line replacement work began Monday and will take about two weeks to complete. The intersection of 13th Street and College Avenue will be closed for two days during that phase of the project, and there will be temporary water shutoffs.
That will be followed by two weeks of street reconstruction work, including curb, gutter and some sidewalk repair, pavement removal and grading, and asphalt paving and striping.
There will be access to all area businesses during construction.
Boulder Transportation Planner Noreen Walsh said the city has tried to keep business owners informed about the plans. The project was timed to limit the impact.
"We wanted to have the work done before the university main session begins again," she said.
But some business owners say the project is having a larger impact because they're already hurting.
Lutrello said business usually starts to pick up again in July with orientations, and he's concerned families from out of town will be intimidated by the orange cones and netting and stay away.
Andy Schneidkraut, owner of Albums on the Hill, said summer is an important time of year for him.
"My business is very specialized," he said. "Young people do not buy physical music to the degree that they once did. The summer has become a more significant part of my business. And older people who do buy physical music enjoy the summer and come more often because it's less student-congested."
Schneidkraut said College Avenue is the main way many people arrive at the Hill business district, and the construction also makes it harder to reach some of the parking lots in the area.
He said he wants people to know that he is open for business and people can still get to the area from Broadway via Pleasant Avenue or 13th.
"I am concerned about it," he said. "I do think it's going to make the Hill somewhat inaccessible until people learn how to get around it. I think it's going to be a challenge for the next six weeks."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.