BALTIMORE - If you’ve been driving downtown in the past few weeks, you’ve seen the signs that the Grand Prix of Baltimore is just around the corner. Starting on Wednesday, you’re really going to notice the impact.
Beth Hawks has less than fond memories of the first Baltimore Grand Prix. “Dead. We had zero business down here,” she said. Hawks owns the Zelda Zen boutique in Federal Hill.
She says Labor Day weekend used to be one of her busiest. Now, she says she’ll stay open, but she isn’t expecting much traffic. “Everybody I’ve talked to is leaving town. Nobody that lives here is staying put and that’s the core of my customer base,” she said.
PLAN AHEAD | See the planned road closures here .
At a news conference last month, Tim Mayer, the head of the group running this year’s race promised changes. He said, “It’s very critical to us that we make sure that this city is able to function and hold a great event at the same time.”
Among those changes, construction that’s been happening almost completely at night. This weekend the actual racing will end earlier than last year, in an attempt to support local businesses. Mayer says, “If we’re done at 6:30, people’s next thought is ‘hey, I’m going to dinner.’ If we’re done at 9:00, people’s next thought is, ‘I’m going to bed.’”
Now the final phases of construction are beginning. Gates are being installed, closing Charles St. between Pratt and Lombard, as well as between Conway and Lee. Those will remain in effect through parts of Wednesday.
Grand Prix officials are stressing that most major roads around the city are open as normal. There are alternate routes to get around the race course if you need to. Parking lots for the Orioles game this week will be open as well.
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