|Downtown Portsmouth-Norfolk Tunnel|
by IDA KAY JORDAN
Virginian Pilot Currents
Even if you don’t expect to be personally inconvenienced by the weekend closings of the Downtown Tunnel or if you really are not concerned about the health of the business community, it’s time for you as an individual citizen to become involved in opposition to the ridiculous situation that allows a contractor to arbitrarily close the westbound lanes for another 22 weekends and then close the eastbound lanes for the next 42 weekends.
Think abut it. That encompasses far more than a year of lost weekends for many businesses on both sides of the water that depend heavily on weekend spending. Many of them won’t survive. Every business that has to close or has heavy losses will cost you money.
Tax money from food and drink and other sales taxes adds up and is a vital part of the city budget.
In the end, Portsmouth citizens will be the losers – either through reduced city services or higher tax bills.
This is no exaggeration. The decrease in business over the first two weekends the tunnel was closed was more than I expected.
The Children’s Museum was down 23 percent and the farmers market business was more than half off.
The restaurants suffered big time. Talk to the owners of Cafe Europa and they will tell you they could never make it if they had to depend on local customers alone.
Check out Roger Brown’s and you’ll see a huge number of folks from elsewhere. Both of them, gourmet restaurant and sports bar, as well as most other places, have suffered already through the economic downturn. Now they’re hit with the fallout from the tunnel closings just as things were picking up a little.
There also could be long-term impact because some people will change their habits over the year-and-a-half of weekend tunnel closures and might never come back simply because they have settled into new places to play.
Some years ago when High Street got a facelift, businesses suffered and some were lost. But, as a friend recently reminded me, at least the High Street work ultimately was beneficial to the community. In fact, it was part of the reason we acquired places like Cafe Europa and Roger Brown’s.
This article is re-posted from the Virginian Pilot- epilot.hamptonroads.com