GULF BREEZE, Fla. (WKRG) — Business owners in Northwest Florida are scared they won’t be able to keep their doors open much longer.
They have made it through the COVID-19 pandemic but it’s the Three Mile Bridge closure that might be the nail in the coffin.
The Florida Department of Transportation still says the timeline for the bridge to reopen is six months but a lot of people don’t believe that.
“We just can’t survive six months,” Viki Weir said. “Even though they say it’ll be open in March. It’s not going to be. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen.”
Viki and her daughter own Pizzaz, a personalized gifts and home decor store, in Gulf Breeze. They were at a town hall Friday night organized by State Representative Alex Andrade. The goal is to provide resources to business owners and get their questions answered.
“A lot of the people who work on Pensacola Beach and in Gulf Breeze, they live in Pensacola and if they’re not able to get to work they don’t have people who can staff their restaurants and stores right now to keep the doors open,” Rep. Andrade said.
There are a lot of questions still unanswered. There was no one at the town hall from Skanska which is the company that owns the barges that got loose during Hurricane Sally causing the damage to the bridge.
“It didn’t have to be this way,” Weir said. “It’s just because it was gonna cost them money to moor all those barges and they decided not to do that. They took the risk.”
The McDonald’s just shut down temporarily in Gulf Breeze near the bridge. Outside is a sign that reads, “Temporarily closed. See you when the bridge reopens.”
“It makes me really upset,” Weir said. “Not just for me and my business but the city of Gulf Breeze. It’s a caring community. Everyone’s been very supportive but it’ll just be a ghost town.”
Andrade says he plans to hold more town halls to keep everyone updated on the progress of the bridge repairs.
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