Bridge closure affecting business

Businesses see decline in customers due to alternate routes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The closure of the Mathews bridge is impacting more than just commutes to work, it's starting to affect the economy.

Some business owners are seeing a decline in customers due to them taking alternate routes.

"It means I'm losing a lot. Time, and customers, because customers having to go around, they're not going to come in this area if it's going to impact them not being able to go to work," said Pearlie Graham.

Pearlie Graham owns Spot Rite Cleaners off A. Philip Randolph Boulevard and Union Street. Many of her customers have to take the Mathews Bridge to get there.

"They can come across the Mathews Bridge and come here to go to work, but if they have to go across the Hart Bridge, they're not going to do it," said Graham.

That wasn't the case with Marvin Wells, one of graham's customers. Although he doesn't have a hard time coming to Graham's dry cleaners, it's taking him longer to get to other places.

"I was going to the mall and I wasn't aware that the bridge was hit by a boat, so when I got on the bus, the bus driver said 'we have to go over the Hart Bridge', and it was forty minutes, thirty minutes before we could get there. It's causing a lot of congestion trying to get over there," said Marvin Wells.

Florida Department of Transportation officials said the repairs are expected to take weeks to complete.

"They got other routes to take to get across the Mathews Bridge, so i just think people have to be a little bit patient until they can get the bridge repaired," said Wells.

Graham said she'll be all right, but worries the closure may have a greater effect on others.

"I made preparations years ago, so it won't affect me now... Not so much of concern about me, but concern about other businesses that will be affected... My concern is the other people, not myself," said Graham.

The Mathews Bridge was closed to traffic for after a Navy transport ship being towed by tug boats, struck the span of the bridge, knocking loose a steel support beam on Thursday afternoon.

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