ATLANTA – The reopening of a vital section of I-85 will bring celebration among commuters, and businesses that have suffered.
At Tower Wine and Spirits, Jeff Leiker can see the Piedmont Road traffic that confounds him, and the bridge repair work that astounds him.
“Not only is the work ahead of schedule, it’s kind of ahead of comprehension,” says Leiker.
The interstate closing means added traffic on Piedmont, and fewer people willing to stop and walk through the front door of Tower.
“At the same time, we've had such loyalty from our customers who are making sure we're ok, when they do make the trip here they buy a little more,” says Leiker.
A survey by Invest Atlanta reveals that 75% of the businesses in the area of the I-85 bridge collapse have suffered some kind of economic loss. About of quarter of those businesses estimate it will take three months to recover.
Initially, the Georgia Department of Transportation estimated it would take until June 15 for contractor C.W. Matthews to rebuild the bridge that collapsed during a March 30th fire. Working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, contractors will now have the bridge open within 6 weeks.
In celebration, The Cheshire Bridge Road Restaurant and Retail Association will hold an event called Dine and Shop May 17-21 to invite customers back to the area many have avoided due to heavy traffic. For details click here.
Some businesses like Tower Wine and Spirits have their own plans.
“Definitely some celebratory sales,” says Leiker.
Perhaps that will involve a bottle or two of champagne.