Bridge reopening won’t make up for lost business

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Local business owners say they’re relieved to hear construction will start soon on the Willimansett Bridge, but they say it can’t make up for all their losses.

After being closed for more than two years, construction will resume as early as this week on the Willimansett Bridge between Chicopee and Holyoke. Residents say it’s about time.

“There’s a lot of people who work in Holyoke, the Holyoke Mall, and I see it as inconvenient for us because we can’t get through here and we have to waste more gas to go through the highway,” said Daniel Pedrosa of Chicopee.

The contract awarded to Northern Construction is for just over $18 million, and has a set completion date of July 11th, 2015.   Local business owners say since the bridge closed, they’ve seen a big decline in sales, some by as much as 25% percent.

“About 15,000 cars go by here so we lose a lot of traffic, a lot of walkers. We’re just breaking even, getting by,” said Moises Garcia, an employee at Pat’s Liquors in Holyoke.

The owner of Capri restaurant in Holyoke says while he’s relieved construction will finally resume, he knows it will be a long time until sales get back to normal.

“I’d rather see the action, I don’t want to hear the talking. People who were coming in once a week are coming in once a month now. The traffic flow that was going through the bridge is just taking a hit,” said Sal Santaniello, the co-owner of Capri.

The last contractor went bankrupt in September. The new contractor has agreed to work extended hours to meet the deadline, to ensure the Willimansett bridge opens on time.

If Northern Construction doesn’t meet the July 11th 2015 deadline, they’ll pay penalties of $6,200 a day for each day they’re late.

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