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Businesses hopeful bridge rerouting won't hurt them

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

SUNSET BEACH—Sure, the new $32 million, 65-foot-tall bridge is going to reroute traffic, but business managers near the old bridge are hopeful it won’t affect their foot traffic.

Once the new span connecting the mainland and island is complete, projected to be by the end of 2010, there will still be business, said Christy Scott at The Bridge Grill and Par Harbor Mini Golf.

In fact, she pointed out, the new North Carolina Department of Transportation bridge will begin at a new intersection right next to the restaurant and mini-golf course on Sunset Boulevard, where stoplights will replace stop signs.

“I hope it’s going to have a good effect for us,” Scott said Monday between waiting on summer customers. “We’ll actually be in front of where it comes through.”

At Twin Lakes Seafood, which has had a front-row view of the Intracoastal Waterway and pontoon bridge for the past 38 years, restaurant front manager Sharon Clunk said the future looks bright with the new bridge.

“We think it’s actually going to be a positive for us and not a negative,” she said as diners waited to be seated Monday night at the busy restaurant.

When the old bridge breaks, “people can’t get here,” Clunk said.

The restaurant is already well established at their end of the boulevard, she said, and the new bridge will alleviate a lot of problems for them.

“It will save a back-up with traffic,” she said, which is a common occurrence whenever the old bridge has a problem.

She said the restaurant would continue to have parking across the street.

More foot traffic could be directed their way depending on the town’s tentative plans to locate a boat ramp across the street and a park-like area near the wooden remains of the old bridge, Clunk said.

At Waves Beachwear at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Shoreline Drive West, manager Martha Thompson said there’s no point in worrying until the time comes.

“We’ll just see what happens,” Thompson said, ringing up souvenirs for a family of customers.

“If the bridge comes, we’re not going to close—we’ll be open,” she said. “We were here before, and we’re not going to let the new bridge run us away.”

Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.