- Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 12:08
- Published on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 12:08
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An immediate financial impact of the Tides Mill Bridge closing has been felt by the two businesses on either side of the bridge.
Shady Lane Seafood and Wilkersons Restaurant have seen a huge decline in business since the closing.
When asked if the bridge closing has had an influence on sales, an employee of Wilkersons who wished to remain anonymous pointed to the one table with four patrons on Saturday afternoon and said, “Oh Ya, it’s made a difference.”
The employee said the restaurant usually stays open until Thanksgiving and closes shortly after. Plans to close for the winter on schedule have not changed.
The opening however is determined by renovations and improvements that are done each year, and when they will be completed. The restaurant usually reopens in February.
Natasha Grosstephan of Shady Lane Seafood was eager to talk about the decline but said regular customers are getting adjusted to the change in route and are slowly getting back to their normal routine purchases.
Currently, seafood lovers will drive the distance needed to get the last of the blue crabs before the winter season sets in.
Michael White who was picking up some crabs for his family was totally unaware of the bridge closing. “I didn’t even know it was closed ‘till you just told me.” White does his grocery shopping in King George and rarely treks to the beach.
The VDOT approved detour is clearly marked throughout the town of Colonial Beach on Colonial Ave. and Route 205, but according to employees at Wilkersons they see an average of four to five cars approaching the bridge and turning around every hour. After dark some cars have been known to approach the closure at high rates of speed, but, to date, no accidents have been reported.
Residents have made it a habit to use Pomona Road, located behind Halls as a shortcut through the detour. Pomona is a small two lane road with a double solid line the entire distance. The highest speed limit is 45 and several curves slow travel to 25 miles an hour. The road runs from west to east and trees line the roads. At sunrise or sunset, depending on your direction of travel the sun jets through the trees then turns to shade, this alternating light source can be blinding to drivers, especially when the windshield is less than spotless.
Pomona Rd. runs into Longfield Rd., but it’s windy curves and slow safe speeds do not make it a viable short-cut and is not an advised alternative.
Pomona Rd. and Cedar Hill Rd. intersect, taking Cedar Hill will bring you out to 205 closer to the bridge on the King George side. But, like Pomona, it takes some getting used to and travel during the day and is hair raising for folks with less than perfect reflexes. Night travel for those unfamiliar with the road’s layout is not recommended.
The actual VDOT approved detour, State Rt. 631, or Longfield Rd., is not a bad alternative. The extra time spent may add 5 to 20 minutes to one’s commute depending on weather, traffic and speed of travel.
Longfield has no area to pass so you are at the mercy of the drivers ahead of you. At the King George entrance and exit to 205 there is no traffic signal, but on the Oak Grove side there is. Drivers have complained that it is more of a hindrance but this area has seen a huge amount of accidents due to the sharp curve just before the entrance to Longfield Rd.
It is too early to tell the full financial repercussions to the businesses of Colonial Beach but one thing is certain—residents and visitors alike are looking forward to March 1 when the bridge is scheduled to be reopened.