Shoppers will need to take a different route to Washington Avenue stores downtown for one or two days during prime Christmas shopping time.
CSX is closing both Washington and Cox avenues off U.S. 90 into the central business district. Washington Avenue will be closed for work on the rail crossing at noon on Tuesday through Wednesday. Cox Avenue will be closed Wednesday through Dec. 15.
Church Street, which also leads to downtown shopping, will be closed intermittently while rail-repair equipment is moved between Washington and Cox avenues. The city has a plan for rerouting traffic.
Merchants aren’t happy this is happening 10 days before Christmas. Shoppers coming to downtown specialty stores are creatures of habit.
“Cut off from the highway, the main route into downtown, less than two weeks before Christmas!” one shop owner said. “I just hope shoppers don’t continue on to the mall.”
They said there’s only one saving grace: “At least it’s the middle of the week. If they had done it on a Saturday, it would be devastating.”
Mayor Connie Moran said she worked with the rail-company representative to get the closure time down to a goal of one day. She said the city will reroute eastbound traffic from U.S. 90 to downtown via Church Street when it’s open and Martin Luther King Jr. (at Krispy Kreme Donut) when Church Street is closed.
Westbound traffic will be routed into downtown off U.S. 90 via Martin Luther King Jr.