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Closure of Omaha’s 42nd Street Bridge could be a problem for small businesses

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Two family businesses are hoping to survive a construction project that will close the 42nd Street Bridge in Omaha.

The bridge is over 60 years old and spans C and D streets and crosses over the train tracks.

It also needs repairs, but two businesses in the area hope they will still be there when the project is complete.

According to authorities, nearly 40,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day.

But everything has changed. A few drivers managed to make another trip over the bridge, but cones were set up to redirect traffic and barricades blocked the road.

Larry Eckley’s car dealership has been on the south end of the bridge since 1996. He says the closure will hurt business.

“They said it would be completed in December 2023,” Eckley said. “So you’re talking about 14 months of really no activity like we’re going to be in a dead end. So it’s going to affect us a lot, I think.

Eckley says losing thousands of eyes on his inventory will force him to make adjustments.

“We’re going to have to do a lot more advertising online. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, you know American Classified, stuff like that.

Right now the garage is full at Pitstop, with lots of people getting tires, brakes and tune-ups, but owner Tim Parys says that will most likely change when the bridge closes.

“Oh, it’s going to be dramatic, there’s no ifs, ands, or buts,” Parys said.

Parys has been doing business in the region for 40 years. He says there was a meeting to discuss closing the bridge about three years ago. He wanted to see work crews rebuild the bridge one side at a time, but the city decided to do it all at once.

“I prepared for the bridge to go down one side at a time, not this one.”

City officials say the reconstruction would take 30 months and create a risky traffic situation for drivers. Managers believe it is more efficient and safer to do all the work at once.

Parys just hopes he can survive all the growing pains.

“I don’t know, I have enough funds for maybe six months if it’s not that bad, but I don’t know, I don’t have an answer for that.”

Larry Eckley hopes his clientele and good reputation will help his dealership through the construction period.

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