Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Closed Span Devastating to Business

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Closed Span Devastating to Business

Article excerpt

More than a week after the Nassau Sound bridge was closed after

being hit by a barge, business owners along Heckscher Drive say

the impact has not been as bad as they thought -- it's worse.

"It's worse than I would have guessed," said Doug Nye, manager

of Alamacani RV--Fish Camp. "My sales are down at least 70

percent at weekday lunches, as opposed to what they were a week

before the bridge was down. This is only our second year, so

this is really hard on us."

Operators of restaurants and convenience stores along Heckscher

Drive who depend on daily traffic flow along the only roadway

leading to the southern end of Amelia Island say they have

suffered.

The bridge was closed May 6 after a tug boat and barge from

Odebrecht Contractors, which was building a new span over the

sound, hit the existing bridge, knocking out nine pilings. The

bridge, which has about 3,300 vehicles crossing it daily, has

been closed to traffic and pedestrians since.

State Department of Transportation officials said yesterday the

bridge should reopen sometime next week, in time for Memorial

Day traffic.

That's good news for business owners, but they are leery.

"I'd love them to death if that was true," Nye said. "If they

can get it up by Memorial Day, I'd take back every bad thing

I've said about them."

Joe Boyd, kitchen manager for Sandollar Restaurant, near the

Mayport Ferry's Heckscher Drive docks, said he has been ordering

only half the food he usually requests.

"Oh, man, it's killing our business," Boyd said. "We don't get

any more Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach customers."

Things were the same at the nearby Buccanneer Restaurant.

"I'm dead," owner Carolyn Coffey said. "I'm down 80 to 85

percent. I have no dinnertime [crowds] at all."

Coffey said she lost a group of 34 people from Amelia Island

because they didn't want to drive the extra 50 to 60 miles out

of the way to visit. …

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