The bridge is closed and it’s going to stay that way for the next 10 months. Monday morning the barrels and signs were put into place blocking off the Dick Henderson Bridge that spans the Kanawha River between St. Albans and Nitro.
Thousands of vehicles crossed that span on a daily basis. Now motorists have to take a detour to get from one side of the river to the other.
Eddie Boggess, who works at Holstein’s Auto Repair just three blocks down from the now-closed bridge, says he’s concerned about business.
“I think it’s going to hurt business. People are not going to want to drive three to four extra miles to try and do business,” he said.
In fact, the two possible detours are a lot longer. You can take the Interstate 64 bridge at Nitro. That adds up to 9.5-mile detour. Or you can drive 12 miles to cross the Dunbar Bridge.
Either way, Boggess fears customers aren’t going to want to go that far out of their way.
“It’s going to be an inconvenience,” Boggess said. “Plus it’s going to be a cost out of their pocket for gas. It’s hard times right now.”
Twila Harris owns Diva’s Consignment Boutique just a half block down from Holstein’s. She says she does a lot of business with folks from the other side of the Kanawha and worries if they’ll still walk through her door while the bridge is under construction.
“We have a lot of customers that come from Nitro, Winfield and Poca and the bridge was the way they get across to St. Albans,” Harris said. “So I am afraid it is going to impact us.”
And Boggess and Harris aren’t alone. Jodie Withrow owns a tanning salon four blocks from the bridge. She says she’s anxious about the impact to her bottom line.
“You know, you just wonder and worry.”
Eddie Chandler of Chandler’s Floor and Wall Covering says he’s not quite as concerned for his business.
“We’ve been in business for 50 years so we have a clientele built up.”
What he’s concerned about is the extra money that’s going to come out of his cash register for fuel and the time it will take to get from his store in St. Albans to a customer in Nitro.
Last week he had a client to visit in Nitro. He says he did the math and realized what that same trip will cost in minutes this week.
“I could be over there in 10 minutes and now that’s probably a 25-minute drive both ways,” according to Chandler. “That’s another hour that takes of your time.”
The DOH says the bridge will go up in record time. That’s because they’re reusing the piers. Crews started working last spring on those piers to handle the new 3-lane span that will replace the two-lane bridge that just closed.