N.B. restaurant owner says three-year bridge closure has hurt business
A New Brunswick business owner is calling on the province for help, saying a lengthy bridge closure has cost him tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
The Little Bouctouche River Bridge, which connects Saint-Thomas-de-Kent with Bouctouche, reopened this week after being closed for construction for nearly three years.
Issam Timani owns a restaurant near the bridge and says the closure has been bad for business.
Thousands of tourists typically flock to the area every year, but drive-by traffic, and the tourism dollars that come with it, were diverted to other routes during the bridge closure.
“So, really, it brought the business down by about 60 to 70 per cent,” says Timani, who owns Daquiri’s Restaurant and Bar.
That translates into tens of thousands of dollars lost for each year of construction. Timani says things are so bad he may have to shut down.
“When you come and spend money to open a business, you do not project that a major artery that leads customers to the restaurant is going to be closed for three years,” he says.
“A business cannot sustain that.”
In a statement to CTV News, the New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure says the “project did experience significant delays, which were partially due to the unplanned relocation of high voltage lines beneath the riverbed.”
It says additional work on the pier foundation, abutments, concrete beams and paving also took longer than expected.
Timani believes the province should offer him financial compensation for losses to his business, which has been open since 2011. No promises have been made.
“It would be great if they were able to acknowledge that by doing what they have done, they caused me quite a bit of grief and quite a bit of loss.”
He says it’s a bitter pill to swallow, especially with the bridge reopening at the very end of the tourism season.
“When it mostly depends on the summertime, the tourism time, it’s been really hard. It’s been tough.”
Timani is also hoping local GPS will be updated soon. While the Little Bouctouche River Bridge has reopened, GPS still appears to be diverting local traffic to other routes.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jessica Ng