Gulf Breeze businesses, residents relieved to be ‘back to normal’ after bridge reopens

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GULF BREEZE, Fla. (WKRG) — After eight months of stress and headaches, businesses and residents are breathing a sigh of relief after the Pensacola Bay Bridge reopened early Friday morning.

“Oh my goodness, so I drove the bridge today, and it was amazing,” Annette Castagna said. “Top-down. It was so pleasant.”

Castagna is a bartender at The Bridge Bar in Gulf Breeze. This little town essentially became a cul-de-sac while the bridge was shut down.

“We’ve seen so many new faces and people from Pensacola,” she said.

What was a ghost town is now bustling again.

“Everything is getting back to normal,” John Campbell said.

John and Johanna Campbell live in Gulf Breeze. John was taking the Garcon Point Bridge to get to work every day in Pensacola, which sometimes took more than an hour.

“It’s just been horrible,” John said. “It’s been extremely stressful.”

They’re happy to see cars coming over the bridge again, and Johanna said she hopes some of the businesses here will recover quickly.

“We’re so relieved,” Johanna said. “So relieved that everybody hopefully will start working here again and employers will be making money again.”

For now, some areas of the bridge are one lane in each direction but it’s mostly two lanes headed each way. It’s expected to be back to four lanes later this summer. Police will remain on the bridge, and they urge drivers to be cautious as the speed limit was reduced to 35 miles per hour.

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