How Road Closures Affect Abutting Business Communities

As the saying goes, “There are only two seasons, winter and road construction”. There is a grain of truth in every joke - and a very big grain in this one. According to the data provided by FHWA, during summer months about 20% of the National Highway System is under construction, impacting traffic in over 6,400 work zones. Moreover, some road reconstruction projects may last much longer than just a couple of months in summer. For example, the well-known Boston Big Dig project involving a replacement of the multi-mile steel roadway, a.k.a. Green Monster, with a tunnel, took 25 years.  This is, of course, an extreme case, but a great number of construction projects take from several months to a couple of years.  

How does this affect the local business communities?

In fact, companies largely dependent on vehicle traffic may face disruption in customer flow due to road closures or detours. These, along with loss of access, poor signing, and project length, have the greatest impact on business. With the loss of customer flow, the company could obviously experience a considerable reduction in revenue.

In the research conducted by H.E. de Solminihac and R. Harrison, the authors concluded that construction effects on sales of abutting businesses are highly selective. Researchers found that the most vulnerable retail categories experiencing adverse business effects due to construction activities are:

  • General merchandise: -28% sales
  • Food stores: -37% sales
  • Automotive outlets: -32% sales
  • Home furnishings: -17% sales

Not so long ago, Alabama local news channel reported the confusion caused by the County Road 32 roundabout construction project. It turns out that the root problem for confused motorists was the absence of a roundabout sign. Local communities also complained that they struggle to get to their favorite lunch spots.

Owner of Saraceno’s restaurants, Marta Davis, noted the potential pains emerging from the wrong location of “Road Closed” signs: “It’s not that it doesn’t sit well, they’ll fix it. It’s something that has to be done. It’s needed for the schools, for the businesses, for everything that is growing around here.”.

Conducting the analysis of minor arterial West View Road, we noticed an untypical reduction of traffic volumes started in May 2022 which was caused by a new road construction project in the area.

As established experts in traffic engineering and traffic data analytics, Ticon decided to analyze the effect of West View Road closure on traffic demand. Overall, the road can be described as a typical residential artery FRC 4, with 2 lines in each direction, a speed limit of 55 mph/h, and a moderate volume of traffic between neighborhoods.

Figures 1 and 2 show that for both directions of West View Road, from March 2022 to August 2022 the traffic volumes decreased approximately by 70% for both weekdays and weekends.

Fig. 1 Average Traffic Volume at West View Road, Eastbound direction
Fig. 2 Average Traffic Volume at West View Road, Westbound direction

As the West View Road has been closed since May 2022, drivers had to adjust their day-to-day road routines and select other route options. However, this does not mean an equal increase of traffic flow on other roads that drivers choose as detours, although we observed the ADT increase in the south.

Also, imagine that you are not operating the site but just selecting it. In this case, the traffic analysis you ordered will most likely show an underestimated AADT value, leading to confusion and making you skip a good site in favor of another, less profitable. Lack of information about external factors affecting traffic volume estimations, such as road repairs, sports events, and more, can lead to missed opportunities to gain large long-term success rates for business operations.

Therefore, instead of acquiring standard ADT volumes for a particular site of interest, we recommend ordering a broad traffic analysis including data about intra-day, intra-week, and monthly variations of traffic flow, drivers’ behavior, and demographics of local communities.

Unfortunately, due to the absence of magical power or strong connections with FHWA, we can’t predict when the road near the site of your interest will be closed. But we can assure you that we take into account many factors including road closures in our analysis to provide accurate and true traffic volume estimations which your company can use to select the best site, plan ongoing business operations, and make other vital business decisions in an optimal way.

Our team successfully helps retail companies to improve and accelerate their site selection processes since 2017 and is ready to share our expertise with you. Contact us at and we will answer all your questions.

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