Business owners rejoice after re-opening of Clark Memorial Bridge

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by Chelsea Rabideau

WHAS11.com

Posted on August 15, 2014 at 6:20 PM

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) -- The morning and evening commutes are a little smoother now that the 2nd Street Bridge has reopened. It was closed for more that a month while construction crews built entrance and exit ramps on the Indiana side.

The bridge opened a week early thanks in part to nice weather through July. Business owners on the Jeffersonville side are happy to see foot traffic increasing once again.

A steady stream of lunchtime traffic; it's something the Orange Clover Kitchen had been missing for several weeks. "It's hard to really tell, but we're gauging anywhere from $10-12,000 of loss in revenue that we've experienced," explained owner and Chef Rachel Smallwood.

The bridge, the connection between downtown Louisville and a portion of Jeffersonville closed on July 8th for construction. For many customers, it became too difficult to navigate that part of town on a short lunch break. "Oh definitely," Alan Meyer said, "We haven't been over here since." Another customer agreed, saying, "I tried to avoid coming this way if I [didn't] have to."

That kind of loss can strangle a small business. "It's still hard," said Smallwood, "The bills haven't changed just because people aren't coming in the door as often as they used to, the bills still stay the same every month."

Terra Mullins runs a food equipment supply business just up the road. She said they lost about 80% of their business when the bridge closed. "A lot of our business comes from downtown Louisville and so customers couldn't cross the 2nd Street Bridge and the Kennedy Bridge has been a nightmare and people just quit coming," she explained, adding that they would have been better off closing for the month.

Work went quickly on the bridge and crews finished it up and opened well under their 44 day deadline. "I was overjoyed," Mullins said, "I even put it on Facebook for all my friends to see that my little business was smiling again after several months."

With each car that came over the bridge and through Jeffersonville on Friday, a wave of relief for these business owners. "Well, everybody's excited," Smallwood laughed, "[telling her] 'We drove across the second street bridge today!' And it's good to hear that people are using that avenue again."

While the bridge was closed, crews reconfigured the Indiana approach to the bridge, adding new US 31 entrance and exit ramps to and from Court Avenue.

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