30,000 expected to watch events as many roads close downtown (with videos)

30,000 expected to watch events as many roads close downtown (with videos)

May 26th, 2013 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News

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Nathan Brown, 21, riding for Bontrager Cycling Team, departs the starting ramp.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Road closures

Traffic shut downs 6 a.m.-5 p.m.

Market Street (East 12th Street to Frazier Avenue)

Frazier Avenue

Veterans Bridge (southbound lanes only)

Georgia Avenue (Veterans Bridge to MLK Boulevard)

Vine Street (Georgia Avenue to Douglas Street)

Douglas Street (500 block)

E. Fifth Street (Douglas Street to Palmetto Street)

Palmetto Street (East Fifth Street to McCallie Avenue)

McCallie Avenue/East Seventh Street (Palmetto Street to Broad Street)

East 12th Street (Market Street to Broad Street)

800 Cherry St.

MLK Boulevard (Georgia Avenue to Broad Street)

Broad Street (McCallie Avenue to Cummings Highway)

Cummings Highway (Browns Ferry Road to east of Alford Hills Drive)

Ochs Highway

Scenic Highway

On Monday morning, the doors to some local businesses will swing open hours early. Some owners will open up on a day they usually stay closed. Others will open to one-day-only sales.

The USA Cycling Road Race National Championships finally will arrive in downtown Chattanooga, pulling in an expected 30,000 spectators, closing some of the main downtown roads and giving business owners hope for a Memorial Day sales bump.

The day's events begin at 9 a.m. with the women's road race and end after the men's race, which is set to begin at 1:15 p.m. Both will start and end at the intersection of Market Street and M.L. King Jr. Boulevard.

From 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., portions of Market and Broad streets and many other roads will be closed, and the city will tow all cars parked on the closed streets.

Nearby businesses learned of the race course last month. Kelly Smith, the owner of Blacksmith's Bistro on Market Street, said her reaction was simple: "Freaking yeah. This is awesome. It's great that this is happening right outside our door."

Smith is happy to see the race emphasizing a part of downtown -- specifically, her part of downtown -- that is away from the water. She said the city offers more than what tourists usually go for.

Blacksmith's, only a few dozen yards from the starting line, will serve breakfast sandwiches Monday beginning at 9 a.m. -- two hours earlier than the pub's normal opening.

About half a mile north of Blacksmith's, at Hair of the Dog Pub at the corner of Fourth and Market streets, Courtney Wright said his bar will double its staff for the day. The bar's second floor provides a good view of Market Street, so he hopes to see a bump in sales.

"Usually it's a dead day for us," said Wright, the general manager, "so we're not sure what to expect."

Across the Tennessee River, Frazier Avenue also will be shut down as cyclists race by. But many shops along the way will remain open, hoping to pull in foot traffic.

The events there actually begin tonight, with Good Dog and Tangerinas throwing a party starting at 7:30 p.m. Mary Kathryn Cox, the manager of Good Dog, hopes the energy can spill over to Monday. At any rate, they've stocked up on beer.

"We've got Modelo," she said, "which is a big thing, I guess."

The Brewhaus will fence off its parking lot and host a tailgate party. Frankie & Julian's boutique will offer a sale in front of the store. Winder Binder Gallery and Bookstore and Chad's Records will offer something, its owner said; he just isn't sure what yet.

The store isn't usually open on Memorial Day.

"We want to see what the crowds are going to be like the first year," said David Smotherman. "But I'm optimistic."

Between the women's and men's races, Frazier Avenue will display bicycles that have been turned into works of art and will offer a section of the road for children to draw on with chalk.

Elizabeth Tate, the president of Northshore Merchants Collective, said the business owners are excited about Market and Broad streets and Frazier Avenue closing for the day.

"I've been here 20 years," she said. "That's the first time I've ever seen that happen. We really wanted to take advantage."

Some residents who live near the closed roads said last week that they didn't know about the race, or the roads being shut down. Other residents said they were aware but weren't worried. They can find ways around.

Robyn Hyde, who lives on Forest Avenue about two blocks north of Frazier Avenue, found out about the race last week. She isn't bothered by having to snake around the bicycle course.

She said, "The main traffic is just as much of an inconvenience."

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.