After almost 30 years of business, Barb Moffat is considering closing the doors to her beloved bakery, because customers have stopped coming.
"We have no, or hardly any customers because they cannot park," Ms Moffat said.
As COVID-19 restrictions eased in 2021, the main street in the central Queensland town of Gracemere was returning to its usually busy thoroughfare.
But by September, business owners say people had stopped shopping there as it is too difficult to park due to roadworks.
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"It's a disgrace ... It's just a nightmare," Ms Moffat said.
"The elderly cannot come; mostly every day there'll be an accident.
"We have suffered and suffered and I'm not the only one; the FoodWorks, the butchers, the doctors, the real estate ... when does it stop?"
Construction is underway to upgrade Lawrie Street from two to four lanes, which is designed to reduce congestion and cater for current and future traffic growth in Gracemere.
The $44 million project aims to make the road safer for drivers, pedestrians and bike riders.
Work started in September 2021 and Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey says it is on track to be completed by early 2023.
According to 2021 census data, there were 12,379 people living in Gracemere.
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That number is expected to grow significantly over the next 20 years, with projections for the town to have about 22,800 residents by 2041, according to research by Capricorn Enterprise.
'Empty shops and a lovely road'
A few shops down from Ms Moffat's bakery is the local doctors' surgery.
Owner and general practitioner Joan Chamberlain says the roadworks and dangerous parking situation is putting the elderly and sick at risk.
"It is quite dangerous, a lot of our elderly will not come anymore because of the difficulty of parking ... and the number of accidents that occur here," Dr Chamberlain said.
"It really is very, very significant what's happening ,,, we don't know how much longer that we will be able to stay open if our patients can't come.
"I am very concerned that we may be the last man standing between us and the chemist."
Dr Chamberlain said it is devastating to see the entire main street struggling with most shops facing closure due to lack of business in recent months.
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"You really don't have a CBD do you; you'll end up with empty shops and a lovely road."
Beautician Julie Moyes also operates her clinic in the street and says she has seen a 30 per cent drop in customers since the roadworks started.
"Gracemere is growing ... but our businesses aren't. It's devastating," Ms Moyes said.
"We tell them our thoughts and what our concerns are and then we just get, 'Well, we're trying to work together' and that annoys me because there is no working together.
"Obviously the noise is a big impact for me ... I have clients come in for beautiful luxury treatments and I have jackhammers going on out the front."
'Short-term pain for long-term gain'
Mr Bailey says he feels for the businesses being impacted by the works, but it is a matter of short-term pain for the long-term gain of the whole Gracemere community.
"It's always a bit of a challenge, people always want better roads, better infrastructure, but of course, there will always be a few short-term impacts," he said.
"I certainly have sympathy and empathy for business owners.
"Getting $44 million worth of new infrastructure into Gracemere is going to mean the commercial area, and the road out by the roundabout past the pub, is going to be so much better, particularly in those busy AM peak hours."
Mr Bailey noted project officers have been working with businesses as much as possible throughout the process.
"We've agreed ... to much better signage to let people know that they're still open and where to go ... we'll be adding an extra 10 car parks along John Street to offset some of the parking changes," he said.
"We do work with businesses as much as we possibly can and I think the outcome of the upgrade when it's completed in about six months or so time, we'll see this being a much more attractive area, to attract customers into local businesses."