17 Business Owners, Tenants Sue City of Hattiesburg - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

17 Business Owners, Tenants Sue City of Hattiesburg

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Seventeen business owners and tenants have filed a lawsuit against the City of Hattiesburg, claiming that they've suffered losses because of the construction on West 4th Street.

City Engineer Bert Kuyrkendall said the construction along 4th Street  started back in April. The city is adding left turn lanes and a median in the middle of the road. It's a $4 million project. Business owners say since the construction is detouring a lot of traffic, they have been struggling to stay open.

"They first came out digging holes in the street," said Ragie Yehia, owner of Fat Boys Tobacco Shop.

"We have lost literally 50 to 60 percent of our gross income" he said.

"I really don't want to sue the city, if they work with us," said Nicole Rankin, another business owner that is a part of the lawsuit. She said her shop, Southern Styles Salon is also suffering.

"I usually buy $1,000 worth of chemicals a month and now I'm down to $200 or $300 worth," she said.

The 17 plaintiffs make up five different businesses on 4th Street. They want the project to end.

"We're just not doing what were doing before the construction, said Doretta Gaddis, a stylist at Southern Styles Salon.

Some of the owners met with the city council a few months ago to address their concerns. At first, there was no way to drive down the road.

"We were totally blocked off with nobody in or out, just foot traffic," Yehia said.

He said the city made a few accommodations, but it's still not enough.

"There was a boutique shop at the end of the building, she had to close down she couldn't survive,"he said.

"It's just really hard," said Rankin.

The all say the one thing they want for people to know is that they are still open.

City Engineer Bert Kuyrkendall said due to litigation, they cannot comment on the matter. He did say that the project is suppose to take one year, and that the construction is on schedule.

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