Bridge closure killing business in NJ town

March 20, 2011 9:54:54 AM PDT
One of the many bridges that links Pennsylvania and New Jersey is closed and cutting off the flow of customers to businesses.

Workers say it will be a few months before the repairs are finished, leaving shop owners hoping they can hold on that long.

The span, which runs between Upper Black Eddy, Pa. and Milford, N.J. has cut off some 3,700 cars that used to use it every day.

The drop in traffic hasn't gone unnoticed by business owners in Milford.

"It's just a pain. I mean you look at downtown...It's dead. There's nobody from Pennsylvania," said Gary Sujet.

Gas station owner Pablo Guzman is among those feeling the pinch.

"When you look at the gas attendant and he's just standing there for three or four hours, you know it's not coming through here, people are going a different way," Guzman said.

Many of the people who patronize businesses here in Milford live or work in Pennsylvania. They're now forced to travel several miles out of their way to cross the Delaware River.

So, until the bridge work is completed they - and their dollars - seem to have disappeared.

"The mornings were so busy here but now that the bridge is closed it just isn't. There's just nobody in the morning. It's dead," said Val Balliet of Milford Market. "Normally we have two or three people working in the deli. We have one now. I went from 25 hours to 14 to 17 hours a week," said Dawn Gardner of Milford Market.

To help stay alive the Milford Market is offering a 15% discount to customers from Pennsylvania to entice them to shop here. Meanwhile, at Pipolo'sPizza, they've hired a driver specifically to make deliveries across the river.

"If we can keep them coming in here, even if they're getting delivery, and when the bridge opens back up hopefully they'll appreciate us trying to accommodate them," said pizza shop owner John Riley.

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission says the $10.3 million project to rehabilitate the 77-year-old span will be finished mid-May.