U.S. 59 businesses look forward to business picking up

By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE)- They call it the bridge to Smoothie King and ever since it closed for construction...business owner, Murry Brown, explained his business hasn't been as good.

"A lot of people come over here at lunch time and stuff from the downtown area and it's a lot more trouble to get here now. They still come, but they don't come as often," said Brown.

Chris Bretheim owns the Finish Line Sports Sub Shop just down from Smoothie King...he too has noticed a change. "When the Tulane Bridge closed down, we could see an instant reaction since then and getting people in here has been a chore," explained Bretheim.

Construction started on the 59 Project more than a year ago and businesses say sales have gone down since then.  Some business said they've lost approximately 60 percent of their business when the bridge closed down.

"We were down about five percent as soon as the bridge closed and pretty much stayed about the same. Maybe not quite five percent now, but it's still down a little bit from what it was," Brown added.

TxDOT told KTRE the construction project should be finished by the end of April, and for these business owners, it means a light at the end of...the bridge.

"I think it'll increase our business quite a bit," Brown said positively.  And Bretheim agreed, "We've really dug deep into our pockets to keep the store going, so we need everyone in town's help to keep us here and to keep us going."

When the bridge closed, it left them anxiously waiting for the day their traffic would speed up. And now that day could be only weeks away.

TxDOT warns drivers as workers complete the final leg of the construction project, they can expect various lane closures as landscaping and other finishing touches are made.