Reopening the bridge to prosperity

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Pictured is the sign for Minit Lube, with the new Main Street bridge in the background. The owner of Minit Lube, Rich Cencula, said his business was harmed during the project to replace the old bridge, which took place from February until this month.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Will Channell)
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While the Main Street Bridge’s reopening has brought back normal traffic flow in Marysville, some businesses are still feeling a sting.
“I think the state and the city owe us money,” said Rich Cencula, owner of Minit Lube on Main Street.
He’s still calculating losses, but Cencula estimates his revenue was down 25 percent during the period the bridge was closed down.
The Main Street Bridge was closed in February and reopened last week. Cencula said he’s comparing what he made last year during the same time with what he made during the closure. He intends on forwarding that information to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
“It has affected all of us down here,” he said.
ODOT announced the project more than a year before it began. The goal was to replace the aging bridge with a new one. While the project was slated to start in March, it was moved up to Feb. 19. It then pushed back from the original end date in June, to July 17.
Minerva Minthorn, owner of Amish Heritage Country Market, estimated a 15 to 20-percent decrease in daily revenue during the closure.
“The day that the bridge opened, I had a good day,” she said. “The people have been more consistent coming in.”
Minthorn said while she understands the project was needed, she doesn’t know how it could have been handled differently. She said she doesn’t know if they could have kept one lane open, or if that would even be better than completely closing it.
“I don’t know which is the lesser of two evils,” she said.
Like Cencula, Minthorn was hoping to get some money back to compensate for lost revenue.
“There was nothing said to us, and I did check in with the city,” Minthorn said. “The city said they’ll look into it, and I haven’t heard back from them,” she said.
City officials said they spoke to Minthorn and contacted ODOT. The state told them there is no program available where business owners can be reimbursed in situations like this.
Cencula also said he doesn’t feel that the bridge workers were as quick as they could have been. He said he doesn’t believe the weather was as much of a problem as ODOT claimed.
And while Cencula admitted he’s no expert on building bridges, he said he could look down the street and see how slowly the project was going.
“You can sit down there and watch them sitting around all day, not doing anything,” he said.
He also said he wished the City of Marysville had put more pressure on ODOT to finish quickly.
William Colegrove, manager of Pack Rat Comics, said business during the closure was also slow at his shop.
He used Saturday as a benchmark. He said on average, his shop brings in about $500 to nearly $600 on Saturdays. During the closure, that number was down to $300 to $350.
“We were tempted to move stores somewhere else to get more consistent numbers, but with the bridge back up we’re going to see how it does,” he said.
Colegrove said business is picking back up, and if it keeps improving, the shop should be fine.
“It still affected us, but it’s not the biggest problem,” he said.
Carol Broyles, owner of One Stop Bridal and Prom, said she thinks the closure deterred customers from coming into her shop. April is a particularly busy period for her, so there was an extra sting.
“So that was right at the peak of my prom season, so yeah, I’d say it hurt quite a bit,” she said.
For Broyles, it was just a matter of waiting the project out. She said the finished project looks “beautiful,” but she doesn’t know why it took as long as it did.
“(I’m) glad to see it’s open,” she said. “I just don’t see why it took so long. It seemed like a long process.”
Cencula said, at least for the time being, he only needs two employees when he normally needs three. The bridge closure cut off the majority of the business’ drive-by customers, putting a hamper on income.
“Obviously, most of ours is repeat (customers),” Cencula said. “But if they’re not driving by, we’re not getting new ones.”
Minit Lube’s business has rebounded to an extent. Cencula said there are some customers coming in he hasn’t seen in a while, and even a few new ones.
“I just think it took them a lot longer to do it then it needed to be,” he said.



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