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Blocked off bridge would hurt east side Albion businesses

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 May 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Dave Mogle, owner of D.K. Auto Body Repair in Albion, worries that a blocked off Clarendon Street bridge would hurt his business at 338 Childs St.

ALBION – David Mogle has a new mechanic starting today at D.K. Auto Body Repair in Albion. A couple months ago, Mogle added on to the business, giving the front office more room and a new look.

But now Mogle is questioning those investments. His business is at the corner of Clarendon and Childs streets. He’s right next to a bridge that could soon be closed and torn out. The street could be blocked off at the bridge.

The bridge carries 1,600 vehicles a day, and Mogle said his customers and delivery trucks account for some of that.

“This is a great street and we have good neighbors,” Mogle said. “I never envisioned they would just block it off and put up a guard rail.”

Mogle started the business at Childs Street in 1990. He was 28 then. He has grown D & K to 10 employees who do mechanical and autobody work.

The business has steadily grown, and Mogle attributes some of that to the vehicles who pass by Clarendon Street and see his shop.

“We have many dedicated customers,” Mogle said. “But I worry about getting new customers if we’re hard for them to find.”

The Clarendon Street bridge carries about 1,600 vehicles a day on the east side of the village of Albion.

Mogle said ideally his business would be on routes 31 or 98, busy and highly visible locations. But Childs and Clarendon streets has proven a good spot, and he assumed the village was working to have the bridge replaced.

But about two weeks ago that changed. New construction, design and other costs for the bridge raised the cost by about $600,000 over the budget, and that increase would have to be paid by the village. The federal and state governments committed to 95 percent of the costs when the project was about $1.5 million.  The village share jumped from about $200,000 to $775,000 with the latest projected costs.

The Village Board says that is too high for village taxpayers. The federal and state money can be used demolish the bridge and block off the street near the railroad tracks. The board hopes to have renderings of how the blocked off street will look in time for its 7 p.m. meeting on June 11.

Mogle is disappointed by the latest developments. He said his business will be hurt if the street is blocked off by the tracks. He also worries it will be dangerous for students, who he said will walk around barricades to get to and from school.

Mogle isn’t the only business owner worried. Sue Holmes purchased the Crooked Door Tavern on April 3. That business is at the corner of East State and Brown streets. The Brown Street canal bridge has been closed for about two years. Now the Clarendon Street bridge faces demolition with no replacement.

“It’s one less way for people to find a way to us,” said Holmes, who has 17 employees. “We’re already off the beaten path. We want to make it easier for people to get to us, not harder.”