Downtown businesses say closed bridge resulting in noticeably less traffic

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 November 2022 at 11:20 am

Businesses would like to see motorists turn at Bank Street instead of State Street

Photo by Tom Rivers: Main Street from near Beaver Alley to just north of the Erie Canal is blocked off to traffic while the lift bridge gets an extensive overhaul in the next 18 months.

ALBION – In the first week that the Main Street lift bridge was closed to traffic there were far less vehicles moving through the downtown, some Albion businesses said during a meeting Monday of the “Bridging Albion” committee.

Lynn Palmer, owner of Upscale Overstock at 50 North Main St., said her sales were down about 67 percent in the past week.

She was expecting brisker business with the holiday season close by. But she said there are far fewer cars coming down Main Street.

Palmer is hopeful “Small Business Saturday” this Saturday will bring people downtown to support the local merchants.

Laura Kemler, owner of Laura Loxley Vintage Inspired Goods, said signage about the bridge closing seems to be diverted traffic to turn right at State Street, then left onto Ingersoll Street, bypassing the downtown. She would like to see traffic come down to Bank Street, and then turn to go to the Ingersoll lift bridge.

“It has really put a halt on our traffic,” Kemler said. “We’re not getting eyeballs on our stores.”

The group would like to see more signs in the community proclaiming that downtown is open for business. They want more leeway for businesses to put sandwich signs in the sidewalk, promoting specials.

Businesses also will try to put out more flags when they are open, to make the downtown look more dynamic and to better show the public there are many businesses on Main Street and Bank Street.

Michael Bonafede, one of the Bridging Albion members, said the local merchants need help right away from the community and the government officials to weather the tougher economic climate imposed by the closure of the bridge.

The bridge is expected to be shut down for 18 months while the span from 1914 gets extensive repairs.

The Albion Merchants Association is planning a “Small Business Saturday” celebration on Nov. 26 with activities and special deals in the downtown and also at the Arnold Gregory Complex at 243 South Main St. There also will be another day of events on Dec. 10 that are planned by Albion businesses.

Next year’s summer concert series also will include four concerts in a blocked off part of Main Street (between Bank Street and Beaver Alley) and five concerts at Bullard Park.

Natasha Wasuck, one of the Merchants Association leaders, said the group wants to see more food trucks in the downtown and other attractions in addition to the special events. She is asking the Village Board to either waive and significantly reduce the food truck fees. Those fees are currently $100 for one to seven days, $250 for eight days to 6 months; and $500 for 6 months to a year.