ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Move over lawyers and journalists: There's a new name on the most disliked professions list along St. Paul's University Avenue these days.
Pity the intrepid construction worker.
The chaos triggered by the 11-mile Central Corridor Light Rail project has had a profound impact on local businesses that line University Avenue West. Detours, road closures and lost parking have cost many businesses customers and income. It has forced others to close their doors all together.
According to light rail officials, 62 businesses have closed during the latest construction on the Corridor, while 73 have opened. Further, 20 businesses chose to move locations within the corridor, while 11 moved completely away from the light rail route.
It's not rational, but some of the hostility that accompanies the economic blow has been heaped onto the plates of the men and women doing the work preparing for the arrival of light rail trains.
Salon owner Mary Milton has seen it, heard it, and wants it to end. "We want to look at the positive side, that it is going to be finished. People will come back," said Milton. She acknowleged that the construction had impacted her business.
On Monday Milton, owner of Transformation Salon, decided to make a simple but generous gesture to say thank you to the workers that she's seen sweating all summer through her front window. She and a small cooking crew are grilling up 1,000 hot dogs and brats, warming up some beans, and serving chips and cookies to any worker that wanted to come by.
"Why lunch?" Milton bubbled. "Everybody loves food. So, why not? Why not eat? They have to have lunch."
Milton says it was simply her way of showing her appreciation for folks who work hard, and have been the focus of some negativity along University Avenue.
The dozens of workers to turned that block of University Avenue into a sort of impromptu tailgate, were charmed by the gesture.
"It is a good thing, real good deal," said J.J.Giefer of Hampton, "Beautiful day. Whoever put this on, it is nice of them."
James England of Saint Paul agreed. "Pretty nice thing. It is good to be appreciated, you know?"
Dale Kirchoff of Harris admitted that not everyone along the corridor shares Mary's good spirit. "This is very nice, very appreciative of all the hard work that is going on here."
The Central Corridor light rail line is scheduled to open in 2014.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )