Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has called for major roadworks to be completed on time as businesses say they are losing money.
One cafe says the 30-week closure of Church Street in a multi-million regeneration scheme was having a “crippling” effect.
The road has been closed to traffic from top to bottom for around a month after work started further down in November.
Hartlepool Borough Council, which is leading the project, has put up signs reminding people that businesses are open and provided free parking in Whitby Street.
But businesses say it is not enough. Lesley Hetherington of the Train Stop Cafe said: “The other day I did seven breakfasts instead of 30 to 60 normally.
“People are not attempting to come down this area. It’s crippling.
“If it continues like this I would have to consider laying some of the girls off.
“I have never known it be as quiet.”
David Crute, owner of Fast Snacks, said he has seen takings halved since work started. He said: “It’s had a dramatic effect on the business. I understand it needs regenerating but the sooner it is done the better.”
Ann Taylor, manager of Ian Taylor’s barbers also said their takings have also been hit as the work is affecting passing trade.
Mr Hill said he welcomed the £2 million redevelopment of Church Street but added: “I am well aware that local businesses have struggled because of access issues resulting from the current works and I have flagged this up with the Leader of the Council who has assured me that officers have been in close liaison with those affected. The council absolutely must insist that work gets completed on time and that compensation is considered for local businesses if it is not.”
A council spokesman said: “These are much-needed improvements for the Church Street area and will create an attractive and revitalised environment in which businesses can flourish. We are carrying out the work in a phased approach to try and minimise disruption as much as possible and would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the construction work.
“There has been a publicised and signposted diversion in place while the improvements are being carried out and we have also suspended parking charges on the nearby Whitby Street.
“Phase one is nearing completion and the other phases will follow on when they are complete.”