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Chambers Street Construction Work Extended Through 2014

DOWNTOWN — Business owners expressed concern Monday that the massive Chambers Street water main construction project has been extended one year and will not be completed until at least late 2014.

The construction, which has narrowed the thoroughfare to one lane of traffic between Church and Greenwich streets, was extended to give workers time to make repairs at the intersection of Church and Chambers streets and complete work on the street between Church and Broadway, according to a statement by the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center.

"Rebuilding the infrastructure on Chambers Street has made steady progress, though city crews have been challenged to address major interferences between the many utilities lines in the roadbed," read a report on LMCCC's website.

One small business owner on Chambers Street between Church and Broadway, which will be reduced to one-way westbound traffic starting late June, said he was worried about the effect the upcoming work will have on his business.

"I have customers who live on the western part of Chambers and they say they don't walk on the blocks with construction," said Albert Babaev, who owns Mike & Son Hair Salon on Chambers Street between Church and Broadway. "Walk-in traffic will be reduced.

A manager at a phone store on a block already impacted by construction said the amount of walk-in customers has been reduced by 50 percent.

"The noise has hurt business," said Raj Kumar, 37, whose brother owns a wireless phone store between Greenwich Street and West Broadway. "We have to close the door."

The work between Greenwich and Church streets is expected to finish this fall.

Besides replacing water mains on Chambers, workers have been upgrading utilities like telecommunications and electrical infrastructure.

Water was periodically shut down on the blocks because of the water main work, small business owners said.

"By the time the project is complete in late 2014, Chambers Streets' aging water mains, sewer, electric, gas, steam, and telecommunications lines will be fully upgraded," read the LMCCC report. "The roadway will be rebuilt and repaved, as will the curbs and sidewalks. New traffic signs and street lighting will be installed, and five new trees will be planted."

At least one worker said he understood the need to upgrade utilities and that they were able to weather disruptions to their business.

"I was here for 9/11," said Ray Colovic, who manages the Italian restaurant Ecco!, between Church and West Broadway, which he said was force to close for two months after the attacks. "This is nothing."