Thursday, October 28, 2004

Bridge work hurts shops

Lingering detour upsets owners

By Andrea Remke
Enquirer staff writer

NEWPORT - Business for those located along the 10th Street Bridge corridor in Newport is anything but booming.

After the bridge's reopening on Oct. 18, some business owners in the area say 'Detour' and 'Closed' signs still deter patrons.

"It's killed us," said Odie "O" Hickman, co-owner at Harmeyer's Paint and Supply, of the bridge's closure. He said signs on Interstate 471 don't help business flow. "There are barrels and detour signs still out there," he said.

While that had been expected to change by Wednesday, many business owners were disheartened by the delay.

Harmeyer's, which re-located from Covington, has been at 10th Street and Park Avenue for about three years, Hickman said.

"We had just started to get a foothold here when they closed the bridge," he said.

Marla Sandfoss, owner of Detroit Joe's, said her business is down by 68 percent this year.

Sandfoss said if many people knew the bridge was open, traffic would flow past her business at 115 E. Ninth St.

"What really disheartens me is, I'm a small business here," she said. "I can't even pay my taxes, because I can't get people from downtown Cincinnati here. It's hurting every business south of Seventh Street," she said.

George Stavropoulos, co-owner of Gourmet Chili, 843 Monmouth St., said he's noticed less morning traffic on Monmouth.

"There are days where there is really slow traffic," he said.

Nancy Wood, public information officer for the Transportation District, said the 'Bridge closed' message boards along I-471 were turned off Wednesday.

"The detours are still up," she said. "The project itself is not fully completed. There are still some loose ends - traffic lights and sidewalks that won't be done until December," Wood said.

Hickman said if people aren't traveling through, the impact is heavy for businesses.

"Every day costs us," he said.

Mike Rutledge contributed. E-mail

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