TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Downtown LINKS construction project is underway and some businesses, already hit hard by COVID-19, said it’s creating another obstacle to keeping their doors open.
Sixth Ave is closed until Friday. It will close again next month for several weeks and the closure will return early next year for six months, according to the Tucson Department of Transportation.
“I’ve been crying for a couple weeks now," said Amy Smith, the manager of Exo Roast Co on 6th Ave. "It’s really hard, it’s super challenging.”
The coffee shop pivoted business due to the pandemic by offering to-go orders and relying on outdoor seating.
“If I could say anything, I just wish the people in positions of power could see how hard this is for us and really the impact it has on the larger community," Smith said. "We’ve got to save our small businesses.”
Tap & Bottle is next door to Exo Roast Co, and voiced similar concerns.
“I mean I’ve cried, I cried because it’s really hard to see," said Rebecca Safford, the owner of Tap & Bottle. "To see your business, your baby with a bunch of signs in front of it, and no parking and no access except for businesses. So yeah it’s pretty frustrating.”
The businesses said they’ve been expecting the construction for years, however the pandemic overlapping with the project has intensified the situation.
“Being able to persist and keep it going through all of this," Safford said. "Being able to keep your employees happy, reach out to your customers. I mean how long can we do this for?”
They said they hope the community will continue to support local businesses as they face another obstacle.
Mike Graham, TDOT’s public information officer, said the project team has worked hard to lessen the impacts to businesses in the area and to provide assistance through the Regional Transportation Authorities Mainstreet Business Assistance Program.
“Sixth Avenue between 6th Street and 7th Street has been re-striped to add more parking for the businesses,” Graham said in an email. “Parallel parking was removed and angled parking added to provide more spaces.”
Free two-hour parking is available on 6th Avenue and temporary parking spaces are available for food and drink pick up.