Tollway takes toll on some businesses

Waffle House

AUSTIN (KXAN) – While the Manor Expressway will help residents get from point A to point B, some businesses on the frontage road say they’ve been left out of the equation. Employees at the Waffle House along US 290 say business slowed down significantly when construction began on the tollway.

Willa Randall has worked at the Waffle House for about a year-and-a-half. While she wears a smile, it’s not always easy to put on.

“My last customer? Probably 45 minutes ago, 30 to 45 minutes ago,” she said.

When construction began on Manor Expressway, so did a decline in customers.

“I don’t make as much money, because I live off my tips,” Randall said. “When you have a decrease in customers you have a decrease in tips. That affects your living.”

Employees are worried that less traffic on the frontage road will mean even fewer customers. They also say they receive calls daily due to customers having trouble finding them with GPS.

“People that have been coming here for years thought we shut down because they didn’t know we were here once the toll road went up,” said Randall.

However, some businesses along the frontage road welcome the toll road.

Aaron Lopez works at a business that sits along the frontage road.

“It brings people to our area, easier and faster,” said Lopez. “Makes directions a lot faster out here because this is kind of an undeveloped area around here.”

He believes that connecting Austin is a step in the right direction, “Any toll road that can help alleviate congestion off 35 is welcome to any resident in Austin.”

Randall says despite the lack of traffic, she’ll keep smiling, “We have the best waffles in town, so everybody come see us!”

Expressway advocates maintain the new toll road will attract many new businesses along the route and create about 2,200 jobs.

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