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Life goes on around Mystic bridge work

By Chuck Potter

Publication: The Day

Published April 07. 2011 4:00AM   Updated April 07. 2011 5:00PM
Tim Cook/The Day
Workers remove some scaffolding from the Mystic River drawbridge Wednesday. The span remains closed to traffic as work on the project continues.
Local traffic disruptions are 'not that big a deal'

Mystic - Navigating the Mystic River took on new meaning Wednesday as the only bridge over the waterway was closed for repairs Tuesday night and is scheduled to remain off-limits until 5 a.m. Friday.

Still, from Dublin to downtown, good spirits ruled the day when it came to coping with the inconvenience of having to detour via Route 27, Interstate 95 and Route 1.

Larry Gemma, who owns Mystic Army Navy on Main Street in Groton and Mystic Army Navy II in the Olde Mistick Village, said business was slowed already by the construction project, which had limited the span to single-lane and alternating traffic.

"It hasn't been that big a deal," Gemma said. "It's only 54 hours. We've made some Internet sales and the store in the Village has done a little better."

Barbara Gilligan and Tony Martyn, who arrived Wednesday morning from Dublin, Ireland, had a hotel room on the Stonington side of the river and were strolling and shopping on the Groton side Wednesday afternoon. They said their only dilemmas were finding a free parking space and nearly missing a turn to downtown from Route 27.

"We're used to driving on the left," Gilligan said. "But it all worked out."

Erin Kuhze, assistant manager at Stonewear clothing, said business was good Wednesday.

"Maybe people think it'll be easier to find parking because not so many people are downtown," she said. "But I think they just really want to support the downtown while all of this is going on. "

On the Stonington side, Holly Beeckman was working her shift at You've Got To Be Beading, which also has a store in Waterford. She said when the detour signs went up, traffic went down. She also said, however, that some of the locals have come, while others have been doing their shopping online and at the Waterford location.

"I think it will be slow-going the next couple of days," she said. "We know it has to be done. It'll look nice when they're through."

The Winslows agreed. Amanda and Mike Winslow, who live on Broadway, were walking their black Labrador/ German shepherd mix. They said they often walk the dog to the Groton side but are not bothered by the closure.

"It needed some work," Amanda Winslow said. "It will look good for all of the tourists this summer. It had a lot of rust."

c.potter@theday.com

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