BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Saturday is the first full day the south and westbound lanes of the new I-59/20 bridge are open. For many downtown businesses, this means relief from congested detour roads and a lack of parking.
While some businesses benefited from the interstate detours bringing in new customers, others saw it cut their sales in half. Dusty Leeming is the general manager of Your Pie. He said the bridge construction has cost him a lot of business. “It has been a combination of both the interstate being closed for the remodel and also for the lack of parking because of the construction of the stadium. We lost that entire parking lot across the street.”
Fewer parking spots meant customers found a place that offers more convenience. For other businesses in the area, it was a lack of traffic that caused them problems. The Norwood Shell Gas Station said their drop in sales was because the exit that brings drivers near was closed. “It’s been really slow around here. Like really slow. Lost a lot of business, lost a lot of customers because they couldn’t exit to come to see us. But hopefully, now that the bridge opened, we’ll probably see a difference now,” said Abraham Anaham, the gas station owner.
More changes are coming to the downtown area. The World Games will be in town in the Summer of 2021 and the protective stadium will open the following Fall.
On Sunday, the north and eastbound lanes of the bridge will open.