Three months after a fire damaged the bridge that crosses Peachtree Creek, Cheshire Bridge Road remains closed indefinitely between Woodland and Faulkner roads.
The closure has taken a toll on businesses on either side of the bridge while residents continue to be inconvenienced, but there is still no concrete timeline for a repair.
Atlanta Intown reached out to Dist. 6 City Councilwoman Jennifer Ide to get an update on when repairs might begin and were referred to the Atlanta Department of Transportation. The Atlanta DOT promised an update two weeks ago, but we’re still awaiting a response.
DOT Commissioner Josh Rowan told the Atlanta City Council in August that a ballpark estimate for rebuilding the bridge was “at best one year.”
In the meantime, the holiday season is here and businesses are concerned the closure of Cheshire Bridge Road is going to mean their closure as well.
Sachi Takahara, owner of Nakato Japanese Restaurant, said businesses along Cheshire Bridge are struggling and called the response by the city a “fiasco.”
“There are businesses along Cheshire Bridge that are doggy-paddling trying to stay afloat because of the road closure and that’s on top of COVID,” Takahara said.
Nakato is closer to the Piedmont side, but Takahara said she’s seen a noticeable dip in customers and sales. “We haven’t heard anything from the DOT and it seems like this issue has been lost in the election cycle. I think District 6 has gotten the short end of the stick.”
Takahara recalled the I-85 bridge fire in 2017 and how it was repaired in three months. “If they can rebuild that bridge in a few months, they can do the repair on Cheshire Bridge in less than a year.”
Sara Keith, director of the Atlanta School of Photography, said the bridge closure would eventually be a “death sentence to businesses in this area.”
Keith said classrooms at the school which typically at 20 students had dropped to just 8 due to the pandemic, so the bridge closure has just added to the misery.
“There doesn’t seem to be any urgency from the city on this issue or in keeping us informed,” Keith commented. “The radio silence has been bizarre. Just tell us what’s up. Businesses along here are worried this will be the final nail in the coffin.”
Jennifer Ohme, senior consultant for the Piedmont Heights Alliance, said businesses along Cheshire Bridge had seen up to an 80 percent drop in sales. She said the closure not only hampers customers getting to businesses, but also deliveries.
“We’ve asked the city to install more signage that businesses are open and for detours around the closure,” Ohme said.
She said a “Shop Cheshire Bridge Road” event is being planned for Nov. 27 to try and help boost holiday sales.
Daniel Dailey, owner of Johnny’s Pizza, has started an online petition demanding action from the city.
“The detour around the Cheshire Bridge has had a dramatic impact on street traffic and foot traffic,” Dailey said. “In the first three weeks, I saw a 30 percent decline in total sales and a 50 percent decline in dine-in sales.”
Dailey said he’d been told it could take as long as 18 months for the bridge to be repaired. “Many businesses will not survive if repairing and rebuilding this bridge is not a priority.”
Another petition, Open Cheshire Bridge Road, is also demanding action from the city.
Ohme said businesses are not the only ones suffering. She said traffic has increased significantly on residential streets as motorists detour around the closed bridge and many residents have reported their morning commutes taking 15 minutes longer. There has also been disruption in mail and package delivery as well as MARTA’s bus routes.