Diamondhead bridge work concerns business owners

Diamondhead bridge work concerns business owners

DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - A critical bridge repair project soon to get underway in Diamondhead has nearby business owners concerned about their bottom lines.

The bridge located on Kapalama Drive could take up to 45 days to complete. Merchants say the bridge and road closure will hit their businesses hard where it counts the cash register. 

"I just think it's a bad idea," said Stacia Diamond-Odell. 

Stacia Diamond-Odell manages Uncle Joe's Pizza and Wings, and is pushing for the creation of an alternate route for her customers while construction is underway.

"I think it's going to impact our lunch more dramatically than our dinner because we have a lot of working people. They have 30 to 45 minutes to come in for lunch - Comcast guys, AT&T guys, the construction workers. They are great, they're our bread and butter customers during the day, and they won't have the time to go all they way around come in and get back to work," said Odell.  

The bridge and roadway being closed for as many as 45 days ignites safety, as well as financial, concerns for the owner of Grog's Bar.

"We are coming into hurricane season and there is only one way in and out of Diamondhead," said Greg Framnes. "If a storm comes, basically you're going to shutdown any northbound evacuation route. We're also concerned about the affect it's going to have on the business in the area when we lose 90 percent of our access to our clients."

The 50-year-old bridge has started to take its toll. According to the county engineer, the structure has a number of problems. Most critical, rotting support pilings. 

The weight limit for what can safely travel over the bridge was recently lowered from 12,000 to 6,000 pounds.

"We definitely know the need for a new bridge, we just don't want to be stuck without a bypass road to get our customers to us. We've got petitions in all of the businesses back here to show there is a large amount of people that will be impacted by not being able to come through this road," Got Shots Wine and Liquor manager Foster Bond said. 

Leaders say a bypass road could add $200,000 - $300,000 to the cost of the project.

Construction on the new bridge is expected to start in June. A contract to do the work should be awarded in May.

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