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Reopened I-64 could help mall traffic

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Steve Chiotakis: Today of course being the day for the sales, this Black Friday, the big mark-downs that have people pushing and pulling. The National Retail Federation trade group expects Black Friday crowds to be bigger this year than last. But one retail consultant says spending for the weekend won’t do much better than last year.

One mall in St. Louis could be in store for a bump courtesy of the Missouri Department of Transportation. Reporter Adam Allington has more.

Adam Allington: The St. Louis Galleria and its 130 shops sit right off of Interstate 64, the city’s main east-west freeway. You might think that’s a pretty good location, except that a 10-mile stretch of freeway past the mall has been closed for two years.

In the meantime, shoppers have had to rely on a network of detours that in theory was meant to keep traffic to the mall flowing. But it didn’t work out that way for all shoppers.

Earl Dorsett is the General Manager of the St. Louis Galleria Mall:

Earl Dorsett: If alternate routes were not easily accessible to somebody, I’m sure they made decisions to stay at home or do other things.

Christmas is coming early this year for Dorsett and Galleria shop owners. The state’s planning to re-open I-64 early next month.

Now the trick is to lure back shoppers like Karen McKinley, who’ve cut back on trips to the mall and grown used to shopping online.

Karen McKinley: I’ll wait seven to 10 days for it to be shipped from the Internet if it really comes down to it.

But you can’t order everything online. Blake Baeliff is a manager at P.F. Chang’s restaurant, which in the past has relied on clientele from across the region.

Blake Baeliff: We anticipate to get a huge bump. We really think that opening up the highway is going to really help us out and get those people again from Illinois.

And it’s not just store owners who are happy to see the freeway reopen, the contractors in charge of the project will get an extra $5 million for finishing construction on time and under budget.

I’m Adam Allington for Marketplace.

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