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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- The big crowds at the Mid-Summer Mardi Gras parade were a welcome sight for Oak Street businesses.

Owners there say streetcar construction has really hurt business, but now that construction is finished they are not seeing the traffic they were expecting.

After three years of construction, the St. Charles Avenue streetcars are finally back in full service, but businesses owners along Oak Street say you would not know it.

'It's picked up a bit, but I don't think it has connected yet with the general public that you don't have change twice just to take the street car all the way up or down,' says Hank Staples, the co-owner of the Maple Leaf Bar.

Chiba owner, Keith Dusko, said he relies on streetcar traffic and the tourists it brings to the area, especially during the slow summer months.

With the construction, he and other businesses have seen a drop in business, and Dusko said it has been slow to return.

'As someone who has invested their entire life in this facility and this restaurant, yeah, it's been frustrating,' says Dusko.

Brad Vega, the owner of The Willow, has had to deal with construction since he first opened his doors one year ago.

But now that a new construction project has closed down the street in front of his bar, it is creating even more headaches.

'Obviously parking would be the first one there. We already have pretty limited parking as it is and your always worried about you customers' safety too,' says Vega.

Vega said, at first, construction was moving quickly, but now little progress is being made.

'It's hindering our business as well, at some point lets get this going and get the street cars done too,' says Vega.

Even though it is putting a burden on them now, businesses owners agree it will be worth it in the end.

'When they repair the streets and the infrastructure it's a good thing,' Staples said. 'Knock on wood, once it's finished, it won't have to be redone for a very long time.'

RTA officials says all minor construction and clean-up work related to the streetcar project is expected to wrap up by the end of the month.

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