Matlacha bridge replacement causing some pains
The Matlacha bridge construction has caused some issues with businesses, but once the work is complete in another 18 months, everyone agrees the new construction will be “awesome.”
At first, some businesses near the bridge had issues with people being able to find them because their parking lots were commandeered for construction vehicles. A few still experience the “I can’t find parking” syndrome, but it’s getting better.
“Our business is still good,” says Karen Coad, who is a part-time assistant at Bridgewater Inn. “At first we had trouble with people being able to find our place because they took out our parking.”
But, she says, The EC Driver and Archer Western employees who are working on the bridge placed signs to help people see the driveways.
Plus, Coad added, “We have additional parking at the house next door and across the street from Bert’s Bar at the manager’s quarters.
“We have a lot of repeat customers,” Coad said.” The fishing is still very awesome especially early mornings and late afternoon. The dolphin don’t seem to be afraid of the construction either.
“A lot of people come here, believe it or not, to watch them working on the bridge. We have had a lot of newcomers here also (who) have told us they love the place and will be coming back soon. We have been booked up every weekend here. There’s lots of work for us here at The Bridgewater Inn in Matlacha,” Coad said.
The signs haven’t worked as well for Gold Key Properties, says Marcella Yeatter, owner, president and broker of the business.
“Frequently I have people tell me they didn’t come into my office because it’s such a mess there,” Yeatter said. “There’s probably two-thirds of my parking lot blocked off with concrete blocks and then the cones start.”
But, she says, “I think for the most part they are cooperative. It’s just a lose-lose situation. It’s just something has to be done and we have to live with it.”
Bert’s Pine Bay Gallery hasn’t been affected as badly as Gold Key.
“I don’t think it’s affecting us,” said manager Deborah Cole. “Our sales are as good as they’ve ever been.”
But the gallery’s customers are saying they are not happy with the construction. Mostly those people are on vacation and not aware of the construction.
“For the most part,” she said, “it’s a conversation piece. If people want to talk about it, they talk about it.”
Many people on the island agree the bridge is needed.
“The bridge is going to awesome when it’s done,” Coad said.
“It’s going to be wonderful,” Yeatter added. “The new bridge is going to bring traffic closer to the building which will be better visibility.”