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Published April 05, 2011, 10:08 PM

How Will Closed Bridges Affect Downtown Business?

News that the downtown Sorlie Bridge might close is giving nearby businesses a "here we go again feeling." This will be the third year in a row downtown business owners have had to deal with a blocked off bridge.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

News that the downtown Sorlie Bridge might close is giving nearby businesses a "here we go again feeling."

This will be the third year in a row downtown business owners have had to deal with a blocked off bridge.

Opening in 2009, Mama Maria's Italian Restaurant in downtown East Grand Forks has not had a spring where the Sorlie Bridge stayed open during flood season. That's not expected to be any different this year.

"A good majority of our customers are from Grand Forks, just because there is a bigger population," Chad Thomas said.

The city of Grand Forks expects to close the Sorlie and Point Bridges soon because of high Red River levels. That will mean a detour to downtown. Traffic will have to use the Kennedy Bridge. The floodwall, however, has not been enough to stop ticket sales at the River Cinema movie theater in East Grand Forks.

"Pretty much nothing. In 2009, we went through this and it didn't affect business much at all. If people want to see a movie, they are still going to come here. It'll just take a little longer to get here," River Cinema employee Andrew Klemz said.

That might not be the same for some retailers who say they see customer counts drop when the bridges close. Others hope to make up for it on the weekends.

The latest traffic count for the Sorlie Bridge shows about 14,000 cars use that bridge a day.

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