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Block between Airline, Crestwood roads on Laurent opens to four lanes

By JR Ortega
Feb. 21, 2011 at 11 p.m.
Updated Feb. 20, 2011 at 8:21 p.m.

Margie Ramirez, cook of Dairy Treet, talks about how the construction on Laurent affected business.

Jennifer Henry's resale shop has seen its last upheaved pavement, orange caution cones and heavy construction equipment.

For the first time in more than a year, Henry could stand inside her consignment shop, Encore, and not hear the sound of the $6.17 million Laurent Street reconstruction project knocking on her business' door.

On Tuesday, North Laurent Street between East Airline Road and East Polk Avenue reopened to four lanes.

"When they first did the other side, it wasn't so bad," Henry said about the construction.

Henry has owned the clothing shop for 31 years. Her shop, which stands out as a bright blue building on the corner of North Laurent and East Mesquite Streets, has always sat at the same location, she said.

When construction on the lanes closer to her business began, she began to feel the stress.

Customers would call in with concerns of how to get to her shop, she said.

During construction, she lost her business sign, but it is now back up.

Her business has felt somewhat of a financial squeeze, but not so much, she said.

"I'm not saying that it hurt the business a whole lot," she said.

All that remains of the construction down North Laurent Street is a section between East Polk Avenue and Sam Houston Drive, said O.C. Garza, Victoria city public information officer.

"We're a little bit ahead of schedule," Garza said.

If weather permits, the final section of the project will be completed in July, Garza said.

The project completely replaced existing storm sewers, sanitary sewers and water lines.

The road was also paved with concrete because it's smoother and lasts longer, Garza said.

"It was a mess for a while," said Maria Hernandez, owner of Gi-Gi's Grooming and Pet Supply at the intersection of North Laurent Street and East Rosebud Avenue.

Like Henry, her business didn't suffer so much, but the amount of construction around her business was enough to cause some frustrations, she said.

"I'm so glad it's finally open," she said.

Loretta Rodriguez, who lives on Anaqua Avenue, is actually going to miss the construction, she said.

"It was good," the 21-year-old said. "There was no traffic."

Rodriguez had to take a different route just to get home, but it beat cars racing through her neighborhood, she said.

Still, the stay-at-home mom is excited about how smooth the road is, she said.

Farther down, burger-goers fill up the Dairy Treet parking lot at the corner of Laurent Street and Crestwood Drive.

Not having to navigate through a maze just to get some fast food is nice for everyone said Margie Ramirez, a cook at the restaurant.

Ramirez has worked at the restaurant for 20 years and said despite the mess in front of the business, the restaurant still flourished, with some frustrations of course.

"We kept saying, 'I wish they'd hurry up and open the road.' Not only for us, but for customers," she said recalling the annoyance of getting to work just a day ago.

Now, with the four lanes fully open, Ramirez looks forward to brighter days.

With Lent coming around, the restaurant's most popular item will thankfully be received without construction interruption, she said.

"We have Easter coming up," she said. "People like our fish here. We do pretty good with the fish sales, too."

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