Local business owners concerned about Smartfix 40 project

Knoxville (WVLT) - We're almost 24 hours away from the start of Smartfix 40 project.

It will cause a lot of you to change your routes while you're driving, but it's also going to cause a lot of changes to local businesses, both good and bad.

The end result of Smartfix 40 will bring a lot of tourists and local families to the Knoxville Zoo, but the next 18 months could be crucial if they lose the projected 50 thousand visitors during two of their busiest seasons.

"The uncomfortable part about it is there's a potential for layoffs within our staff and the potential to drop education programs," said Janya Marshall from the Knoxville Zoo.

Zoo officials have been educating schools, members and tourists the best way to go is I-640 from the west which is only 8 additional minutes and from the east stay on I-40.
Country table restaurant which has been on Cherry Street for 20 years is worried about their business, too. High gas prices keep customers from coming but the fuel prices have also raised their food costs. Now they fear the construction could close them down.

"You're in a bad area reputation wise anyway," said Jenny Robinson of Country Table Restaurant. "Then you gotta overcome the economy then you gotta overcome the interstate so small business owners have to overcome three things just to get people in their businesses."

On the other side of town on Broadway off I-640, Lenny's Sub Shop is looking forward to the additional traffic the project will bring. They're expecting to make more meals and increase sales during winter which is usually slow.

"In the past week or so it's uh it's been we've seen a slight increase which is great, so we're looking forward to what's to come," John Nelson of Lenny's Sub Shop said.

Lenny's might be looking forward to the construction and increased revenue, but the Knoxville Zoo and Country Table Restaurant just hope they can survive the next 18 months. It's important to remember you can get to any of these places, it just takes a little different planning.

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