While some businesses along Main St. in Marion have experienced a boon from the influx of traffic brought in by a detour along US-56, those who relied on highway traffic to thrive are thirsting for patronage.
Superior Wine and Liquor owner David Yates chiefly among them, business owners cite a lack of communication from the city and what they see as an unnecessary closure of Timber Rd. to thru traffic.
“Just don’t shut the road down because you don’t want to do your job,” Yates said. “There’s no reason cars shouldn’t be able to go down Eisenhower Dr.”
Eisenhower, which turns into Timber halfway between Main St. and US-56, has been completely blocked off at the highway, with police going so far as to place a security camera on a nearby light pole to catch drivers who tear through caution tape blocking off ditches or who move barricades to bypass the blockade.
Yates, who was visibly frustrated, said police could simply post clear signage forbidding trucks from driving on the road, and give tickets to ones that do.
“That would show the county and city that we can enforce our laws,” he said. “They’re letting truckers tell the city what they’re going to do. Cars should be able to go through there.”
Yates said highway businesses have seen a decrease in local traffic, too, since the closure of Timber Rd.
Adding to his frustrations, he said, was a lack of communication from the city. Neither administrator Roger Holter nor economic development director Terry Jones sought him out before Timber closed.
“I’m losing $100 to $150 a day,” he said. “Add that up.”
For Danyal Hamm, manager of Pizza Hut, the losses have been larger.
Hamm said her restaurant’s daily buffet sales have gone from about $500 a day before the detour to around $200. As manager, her salary is tied to store sales.
Tracy Hett, owner of Trace of Copper, said only a small portion of his business comes from drive-by traffic, but that portion of his business is “down greatly.”
He said while he would receive about five carloads of traffic per week of passer-by patrons, that number has dropped to one since Timber closed.
“Business has been fine, I can’t complain,” he said. He pointed out to the closed intersection at Timber. “But I do not understand that out there.”
Hamm and Hett both said no one from the city briefed them on the impending closure.
“I didn’t know they were closing Eisenhower until someone from the newspaper called to ask me about it,” Hamm said.
Lack of communication was nothing new for Hett, who has received help previously from county economic developer Teresa Huffman, but not from Holter or Jones.
“I’ve never heard from either of them guys,” Hett said.
At Ace Hardware, manager Marvin Peterson said most of his business comes from local patrons, and that he had seen only a slight decline in business.
He said Jones did in fact reach out to him during the detour to check on business.
He also said a recent reduction in business hours was because of a planned re-evaluation of the retailer’s business, not because of a lack of business from the detour.
“But I would just as soon open it back up,” Peterson said.