To residents on both sides of the brand-new Lyndale Avenue Bridge, Monday afternoon must have been a bit of a "hallelujah" moment.
Shortly after 1 p.m., local business and civic leaders including City Councilmember John Quincy (Ward 11) and Nicollet-East Harriet Business Association (NEHBA) President Matt Perry snapped five pairs of scissors on a bright red ribbon stretched across the bridge's southern end. The crowd then parted, allowing South Lyndale Liquors owner Dan Campo and his St. Bernard to motor across the bridge on Campo's distinctive motorcycle in the company of a herd of cyclists and lead by a woman in a powered wheelchair, holding her coffee cup aloft like a victorious banner.
"I felt like I was living in a gated community" because construction severely restricted her access to businesses, said Windom neighborhood representative Mary Ubl.
In a speech before the bridge-opening ceremony, Campo praised Hennepin County project managers and engineers for being extremely accessible and responsive to businesses' needs during the construction. Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, though, Campo said he had to lay off a few employees, and cut others' hours to stay afloat as business dropped by 30 percent or more.
According to the Southwest Journal, Campos said he also took a pay cut to make sure his employees didn't have too. Both Campos and Prima owner Jennifer King told the Journal that neighborhood loyalties kept them afloat during construction.
“I feel being in this neighborhood, having the regular customers, they were extremely supportive,” Jackson-King said. “I don’t know, if we were somewhere else, if we would make it.”
NEHBA's President Perry and its staff also came in for praise from businesses for their efforts to make sure businesses and county construction crews were able to communicate during the projects.
Construction crews will work on final touches like a new concrete stairway down to Minnehaha Creek this week. The project's final completion will be celebrated at a block party on Saturday, Oct. 20 .
What are you most looking forward to now that the bridge and road reconstruction projects are more-or-less complete.