August 13, 2018 at 2:30 PM
Business usually picks up around this time of year at Fibre Space, Danielle Romanetti’s Alexandria yarn shop.
The fall fashions are coming out, and while autumn may seem a long way off during these muggy dog days, it’s not too early to start knitting.
So people are coming in to her Prince Street store to buy whites and beiges for scarves and sweaters and the cowls that are supposed to be in fashion.
But Romanetti is already thinking beyond this year’s fashions. Like a lot of business owners near Metro stations in Alexandria, she’s thinking ahead to next summer, and to a massive Metro rebuilding project that could be even more disruptive than the current closure of two Red Line stations and simultaneous track work on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines.
Six Metro stations will be closed for 98 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day next year as Metro rebuilds crumbling platforms at Braddock Road, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington, Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield and King St-Old Town, which is just a few blocks from Fibre Space.
No trains will run south of Reagan National Airport during the shutdown, including to Braddock Road, where Rob Krupicka worries how his Sugar Shack Donuts shop will survive a summer without commuters loading up on sugar and caffeine before work.
“Shutting down the Metro shuts down all the people who come to the store every day,” he said.
He’s thinking of cutting back on hours, closing some days or “borrowing my way through the summer, which is not easy for a small business to do,” he said. “But I’m going to have to do something.”
At Joe Theismann’s Restaurant near King St-Old Town, manager Sarah Swenson said she’s worried about how the workers who Metro over from Pentagon City for lunch will be able to get there.
And at Fibre Space, Romanetti lamented that the shutdown will come just when knitters will be coming in to get whichever colors are considered fashion-forward next year.
She’s already taken out a line of credit to get her through next summer, and she’s encouraging other stores in the area’s Boutique Row to start preparing as well.
“Certainly it’s going to be a daunting situation for residents, visitors and tourists,” said Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg. “But safety comes first.”
Metro says shutting down all service past the airport and letting crews work around the clock will get the project finished
94 percent faster than if it tried to keep the stations open and work only at night.
Metro hasn’t yet said what it plans to do to get people around.
“There will be an entire rollout of the transportation plan associated with that work, but it is not something we are prepared to announce at this early date,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.
To be fair, the work is still months away.
But Romanetti says she needs to know more soon about how bad it’s going to be. Should she budget for Ubers so her employees can get to work?
“If it’s going to take two hours to get to work, I’ve got to do something,” she said. “I can’t do that to them.”
Teddy Nagle, who works behind the counter, also wants to know. He said it takes him 20 minutes to get to work from Gallery Place on the Metro.
He figures he’ll still be able to get as far as the airport during the shutdown. But how will he get the rest of the way?
“Do I need to start budgeting to buy a bike?” he said.
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