COLUMBUS, Minn. (KMSP) - It’s no secret the Highway 97/County Road 23 bridge over I-35 in Columbus has seen its better days.
Narrow and in need of repair, a solution is in the work, but with one major problem – what many see as a fix to the bridge would cause disaster to local business.
“Bottom line is it’s going to be a big economic problem,” said Tim Mackenzie, whose business Exercize Guys would be affected.
According to many business owners, the problem has to do with the plan in place for repairs.
Starting in 2018, MNDot will close down the bridge and replace it with construction expected to last three to four months. According to the Anoka County Highway Department this could create detours as long as 18 miles.
For small businesses like Innova Quilting and Excersize guys their future could hang in the balance.
“If women can’t get to their destination they’ll go somewhere else and that’s loss of business for us,” said Terese Mudrick owner of Innova Quilting.
Most area businesses have expressed concern. Even Running Aces Track and Casino may have to shut down.
“Certainly we are looking at layoffs and reduction of workforce but we could be so impactful we look at more significant action,” said Taro Ito of Running Aces.
MNDot hopes to keep the exit ramps open but the exact impact remains unknown.
The project is budgeted at about $3 million dollars and some wonder if that should also include money for losses.
‘They need to look at some compensation for people that are in this situation and they are going to close it down and your business goes to zero,” said Mackenzie.