Businesses that suffered during construction of light rail extension now celebrating opening

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Barbers at Tapers Barbershop on North Tryon Street are basking in more than the sunshine today.

"Feels great. Feels great," said Brian Lord. "Long time coming. What can you say? It's the ending but it's a new beginning."

After years of dealing with construction for the blue line extension, businesses - like Tapers - finally watched the light rail run with customers on Friday, when it opened for business.

"It's beneficial to the city obviously but you know as far as businesses concerned, the surrounding areas with all the different projects going on with the new businesses coming in I think you know in the long run it's a hit" said Lord.

But like many other businesses along the nine-mile extension between Uptown and UNC Charlotte's campus, barbers say dealing with the construction wasn't easy.

"It was rough. It was rough at first," Lord said. "In terms of new businesses/people getting in and out at the time of construction,  it was hard. We actually had customers – even some of our most faithful clients who couldn't get over here. We've lost a few "along the way."

Ivory Johnson explained "had some streets that was closed down, turns that was closed down, backed up traffic a lot. A lot of turns couldn't be made. A lot of u turns couldn't be made. A lot of left turns couldn't be made. Had to deal with it best we could."

Now, the opening is here and is history.

"This is going to allow people to have that freedom of travel that couldn't get to us if they didn't have a car." Lord said.

Was the construction pain worth Friday's opening and the promise of better days.

"Yeah it was worth it," Johnson said. "Everything has looked nice."

But the cost of lost business is still evidently bittersweet for Lord.

"I want my money back," he said with a chuckle. "Pain and suffering, pain and suffering. We all want our money back. We estimate, what do you guys think? Maybe about a 100 grand."

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.