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Bridge Closures Mean Bad News for Travelers, Good News for Some Businesses

Domestic TravelTravelTourism and LeisureRoad TransportationTransportation IndustryAmelia EarhartHuman Interest

The number of passable bridges for travelers crossing the flood-swollen Missouri River in northwest Missouri is rapidly dwindling, as high water has made traveling to and from Iowa, Nebraska and northeast Kansas a tricky proposition.

The bridge over the Missouri River to Rulo, Nebraska, is now closed, along with the Amelia Earhart Bridge in Atchison, leaving the U.S. 36 bridge out of St. Joseph as the only bridge north of the metro across the river. But while that's bad news for travelers, for business owners in Wathena, Kansas, it's proved to be a windfall.

"It's constant traffic," said Sue Frump, owner of The Dairy Barn in Wathena. Officials with the Kansas Department of Transportation estimate that roughly 8,000 more care travel U.S. 36 each day because of the bridge closures.

"Traffic is so crazy right now you can barely get out on the highway, and when you do you got to speed to get out on the highway," said Frump, who says that despite the traffic headache, her business has doubled since the closures. "We normally have two (servers) at night and now we're like almost four people at night, trying to get everybody served in a nice, convenient time."

Those customers include people like Rick Lemerond, who owns a sports bar in Falls City, Nebraska. He lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and often travels to Nebraska on I-29.

"It's probably sixty 70 miles out of my way," said Lemerond. "I usually go north on the Nebraska side but now I have to go all the way over to Highway 50."

Lemerond says that it's too expensive to make the extra trip throughout the summer.

"I've only done this a couple of times over the last week, hopefully its not going to be too many more," said Lemerond.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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