Extended Bridge Closure Frustrates Lexington Business Owner

Tuesday, April 1st 2014, 6:48 pm
By: News 9

Two months after the bridge connecting Lexington and Purcell was shut down, businesses still struggle to stay open. The James C. Nance Bridge was originally expected to open back up to light traffic, but those plans were put on hold as additional cracking formed in the bridge.

"Definitely frustrating," bar owner Jerry Minyard said.

Minyard has a restaurant that's almost ready to open in Lexington, but the plan to open it has been put on hold because of the lack of traffic from Purcell. According to Minyard, he lost 40-50 percent of his business when the bridge shut down.

"Customers over the years not being able to come out, and if they do it's once every other week," Minyard added.

The business community in Lexington has been talking. Riding out these conditions might prove too tough for some of them.

"They're definitely worried," said Minyard. "I mean, I know a couple that are behind on their lease payments, their rent payments. I heard two, three, four people that are in business saying that they'll close up and go somewhere else."

3/7/2014 Related Story: Purcell Businesses Fight To Keep Doors Open, Inspectors Find New Cracks In Bridge

Casey Shell, Chief Engineer for ODOT, said the good news has been the progress crews have made on the bridge. He said that repairs have continued full-steam ahead as they fix and reinforce 264 areas.

"The pieces are going up as planned and we're looking forward to, if everything work out and the weather cooperates, to an early opening for the overall completion," Shell said.

The fact that the bridge could open within the 120 days set forth in the original contract last month would be welcomed news. Business owners, however, are not celebrating just yet. Minyard said that hitting that deadline is not guaranteed.

"We're sticking it out just the best we can," Minyard said.

Once the bridge does open, Minyard expects business to pick back up. He said the he barely broke even last month with the help of some events renting out his space.