Ready to reopen

Published 11:55 pm Friday, April 25, 2014

It’s likely the meteorologists would disagree, but we wonder whether the drop in the barometric pressure Friday evening might have had some connection to the collective sigh of relief that began in downtown Suffolk on Thursday, when the last of the barricades were removed that had blocked portions of West Washington and South Saratoga streets.

The barricades are sure to sprout again when the city is finally ready to permanently pave the streets that are now rough-patched after many long weeks of utility construction under the 100 block of both streets.

But they are gone for now, and the merchants, restaurateurs, business owners, employees, customers and clients of all of the aforementioned parties must be relieved to see traffic moving outside their windows again. Suffolk residents trying to get from one side of downtown to the other can rejoice in the knowledge that the drive currently involves no detours along narrow neighborhood streets where there is a constant risk of children darting in front of the vehicle.

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The city plans to celebrate the auspicious — if temporary — re-opening of West Washington Street with a block party from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday. Ironically, to accommodate the party, they’ll have to close the block to traffic, but they’ll be bringing in a band to take the place of heavy equipment, and they’re inviting folks to bring their lawn chairs, join the party, hang out for a while and spend a few minutes supporting the West Washington Street businesses that have paid perhaps the biggest price from the closure.

There’s no doubt business owners in that part of the downtown corridor have reason to celebrate the opening of the road. It’s likely they’ll make the most of the block party and the unknown span of time before the roads close once again.

But the real celebration will come when the blacktop is laid and the roads are finally reopened … for good. We’ll avoid using the word “permanently” for fear of putting a jinx on the whole thing.