WINCHESTER, VA- Mammoth yellow construction trucks and fork lifts are not what you'd expect to see when you look at the Winchester Walking Mall. In fact, there isn't much walking you can do on it these days.
As promised, the mall improvement plan has turned the Loudoun Street walkway inside out, and it leaves only a few feet of sidewalk on each side for shoppers.
"It's a little challenging to get people in and out,' says Susan Touchette, General Manager of Union Jack Pub. "People are starting to get used to the fact that they've got to come into the building a different way."
Fortunately, some businesses use alternate entrances to help avoid the construction.
"We have a back entrance off of Indian Ally," says Touchette. "A lot of people have been using that."
While some business owners say their customers have had a hard time getting into the new entrances, others say the construction hasn't affected their business at all.
"The construction hasn't stopped anyone from coming here," says Mark Lawson, General Manager of the Discovery Museum. "It hasn't stopped the children, the parents or anyone else."
Lawson happens to live on the mall as well. He says the construction is intriguing.
"The noise doesn't bother me any," Lawson says. "That's about all we hear is the noise of the diggers outside, but the children find it fascinating and the adults. I find it fascinating as well. The huge machinery, what exactly they're doing, you know. Digging these giant holes, replacing the pipes and everything. It's fascinating."
They say city officials are working to keep them informed on the latest updates on the project.
"Every Wednesday they have meetings in the mornings," says Amy Helmick, Manager of the Old Town General Store. "If there's any questions, they're there to answer."
Some business managers say they've actually been impressed with the construction.
"They are working really hard," says Touchette. "Saturdays, they're always out there. They're working through the evening. That part is really nice to see that they're really wanting to get this done on time."
"They're squeezing eight to nine months worth of work into three and four," Lawson says. "It's incredible."
It's an new experience, but a welcomed one. People can't wait until the pieces all come together again. The project is expected to be complete this spring.