Albion bridge closure killing local business

Albion bridge closure killing local business

Shops within the Cumberland Plaza at 2000 Mendon Road, at top, say business slowed exponentially after the Rhode Island Department of Transportation closed two bridges in Albion on School Street.
Questions about why it can’t stay open

LINCOLN – Business was booming in Albion as winter weather brought warmer temperatures, but business owners and managers said the steady flow of customers slowed dramatically last month thanks to the closure of two bridges in the village.

On April 15, the day the Albion bridges were closed by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, Depault Hardware owner Richard Depault said his Cumberland store was up $20,000 in profits over last year.

“I thought, yahoo, we’re doing great” Depault said, but his excitement quickly turned to disappointment. “I’m now about $50,000 down from the previous year. For a small business, that is tremendous.”

Andrew Raposo, store manager of Seabra Foods, located in the same plaza at 2000 Mendon Road in Cumberland, said the closure of the bridges over School Street in Lincoln has “absolutely” had a negative impact on business.

“It’s killing us here, it really is. We’re losing a significant amount every week,” he said, estimating the store’s customer count has dropped by at least 10 to 15 percent since the bridges closed in mid-April.

Raposo said 10 percent of customers equals about 10 percent of dollars earned. “In this store if the customer count is down, our dollar amount is down,” he said. “We’re a smaller business so that really affects us.”

Depault said the summer months for his hardware store are “his Christmas,” or their busiest season as residents frequent the store for supplies for their summer home improvement projects.

“This is make or break. We will not get that business back when the bridges are reopened,” he said.

He said he reached out to Sen. Ryan Pearson, of District 19, Cumberland, Lincoln, with his concerns and last week was visited by representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

Depault said he asked why RIDOT can’t open up the bridge when they are not actively working on it, noting that the project is not related to the bridge surface decking, only the guardrails and tresses.

“They didn’t give me an answer,” he said. “In my opinion there’s no reason they cannot put up temporary barriers on days or weekends they are not working on it. I understand that the bridge has historical parts that are painstaking to repair, but why will it take until mid-August to paint a bridge?”

Coupled with ongoing improvements on Diamond Hill Road, Depault said he hardly blames people for seeking alternative options rather than taking a 15-minute detour to his shop.

“I’m all for maintaining these bridges. I’m from Albion … I grew up there, I want them to be fixed and look good, but I’m not for them being closed this long.”

The bridges, which are located near the Highland Falls Condominiums, are not expected to reopen to traffic until early to mid-August.

The bridge closures are another headache for Albion residents already driving an extra mile or so to pick up their mail every day. The village does not have home delivery, and its post office has been under construction since the original building was destroyed by a fire in February 2017.

Since then, local residents have been picking up their mail at the post office in Manville. There is no home delivery in Albion.

Residents have been sounding off for years about the length of time it’s taken to rebuild.

The developer, Jeffrey Piette, owner of Jeff’s Home Improvements, said the entire project has been “slow going,” with delays from the very start.

Acquiring the proper permits and drawings “dragged on,” he said, and working with the strict requirements of the U.S. Postal Service proved difficult.

Piette told The Breeze that he expects to wrap up construction in about two weeks. Power is on and plumbing is complete and waiting on an inspection. Piette said they’re ready to insulate, inspect and then complete the interior build-out.

“It’ll get done,” he said. “I’ll tell you it was a lot more expensive than anticipated.”

The bridges are not set to reopen until early to mid-August, according to RIDOT.

Comments

to the answer for your question Mr. Depault. "but why will it take until mid-August to paint a bridge?" RIDOT is the reason it takes this long.

Whether it be RI-DOT, RI-DMV, RI-DHS, RIBTA...need I go on???

This kind of "Inconsiderate Arrogance" to local residents, especially small businesses, has long been de Rigueur in this State from just about every State Agency...especially, RI-DOT! They having taken over 1st-Place from the DMV and DHS.

Next will be 2-or-more years of Hell for Cumberland Residents when, guaranteed, the Boondoggle of the Diamond Hill Road and Rt. 295 Exits Round-Abouts begin...followed by the Chapel 44-Corners reconstruction!

God help us...and even asking Him may not be enough!

Not related to the main purpose of the article... I agree they should do everything within their power to help local businesses. What cracked me up is the statement about people having to drive an extra mile to the post office. That is RI for you, Cumberland has 1 post office, why are there 3 in Lincoln which is a smaller town?

I find it odd that people won’t drive an extra 10 minutes (it doesn’t take 15 minutes) to go to the hardware store or Seabra. That’s pretty sad. Where else would they go? I can’t think of any hardware stores or supermarkets that are much closer from that part of Lincoln.