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The Voice of the Black Community


Alston widening project in progress, but at what cost
Published Monday, February 4, 2019
by Tianna Degraffenried, Durham VOICE

DURHAM – As the residents of East Durham are still facing hard times trying to get around Alston Avenue,  business are being negatively impacted by the road closure due to construction.

Business owners are losing profits daily. According to many sources, N.C. Highway 55 (Alston Avenue)  is going to expand the road into four lanes. The roads won’t be reopened until about June, giving people access back onto Alston Avenue.

In the meantime, small businesses are suffering.

Ahmad (Steve) Abuodeh is the owner of Family Food Market at the corner of Morning Glory and South Alston avenues. He has lived in this neighborhood for 26 years and says he loves his community. He serves his community with his store and prides himself on having a great relationship with his customers.

“DOT told me that they will pay me for the construction and for any damages around the store,” Abuodeh said. But, so far, they’re receiving no help or replacements. “Just be patient, they told me,” Abuodeh continued.

Losing business is a huge risk. Abuodeh is facing many challenges while the roads are closed. The Family Food Market is the only business that he owns. He used to make an average of $700 to $1,000 a day, but, with the construction, he is losing money.

“If customers can’t find their way around to come to my store, I get no money, and that is ruining my business,” he said.

“Seeing Steve not having any business because of the road works is just sad and disappointing,” resident Tim Howard said.

Other businesses around Abuodeh are dealing with the same problem. But the difference is that Family Foods is on the corner of Morning Glory, so people have to go through some neighborhoods just to get to the store.

Customers have a difficult time going in and out or just trying to find their way around. “Trying to reroute our way around Alston Avenue is a real inconvenience, especially for the people who live around here,” said Dion Downy, a Family Foods customer. Nevertheless “customer service is always good.”

Suppliers also have a difficult time trying to get to the store. Truckers have to park at the Durham Rescue Center just to bring in supplies. “It is so difficult and hard to have them come and drop off my supplies because there are cones and signs everywhere,” Abuodeh said.   

“When you live around here, you have to learn how to get to work a different way and most time that’s a real hassle, especially if you have a job that’s not in Durham. So you have to wake up an hour or two so you won’t be late to work,” said Shirley Jones, who lives close to the market.

Abuodeh is being patient. As far as everyone is concerned, Alston Avenue will be reopened in June, and citizens and businesses will go about their business.

“I will be very happy when the roads open back up because I miss having a business,” Abuodeh said. “Be patient and very nice to the people that are redoing the roads, because there is nothing that you can do.”



i will pray for the people affected by road closings. I never understand why so much area is shut down when the employees can only work on one section at a time. The shut down of S. Alston Avenue near NCCU and Burger King is a terrible inconvenience, too
Posted on February 9, 2019

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