Cheshire Bridge to reopen by Oct. 31, city says they’re ‘on schedule’

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 10:52 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2022 at 11:28 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - On Tuesday, a city spokesperson said they plan on reopening the Cheshire Bridge by October 31.

“We are currently in the procurement process and are hoping to have an award [for a contractor] made soon. Currently, we are still on schedule to have the bridge open to traffic by Oct. 31, 2022,” said Amy Williams, marketing and communications director for the City’s Department of Transportation.

Should it open by Halloween, that will mark nearly 15 months since a fire destroyed the Cheshire Bridge in early August 2021.

“It’s just been a really long, disastrous nightmare that keeps on continuing,” said Sachiyo Takahara, owner of Nakato Restaurant along Cheshire Bridge Road.

Businesses in the eclectic neighborhood have struggled to draw customers due to the inaccessible layout from the loss of the bridge.

“I know several business owners that have decided a different part of town, OTP even is better for them,” said Scott Duke, owner of Taverna Plaka.

CBS46 talked with the owner of Ghion Ethiopian Restaurant who said, due to the extended construction schedule, she’s planning on moving her business next month.

Duke said the construction woes on top of the pandemic have been especially challenging.

“The bridge is just salt into that wound,” Duke said.

Businesses in the neighborhood have banded through the Piedmont Heights Alliance and are trying to communicate with city leaders through the transition.

“As of now, the PiHi Alliance has a tentative date set with Commissioner [Josh] Rowan to talk about the construction schedule. We have been updated from Councilmember [Alex] Wan about the progress,” said a spokesperson for the organization.

CBS46 reached out to Councilmember Alex Wan who confirmed he’s communicating with those who live and work in the Cheshire Bridge neighborhood.

“What have I have been able to report to my constituents in my monthly newsletter and at neighborhood meeting is the following: Bids were accepted thru February 1, after which ATL DOT reviewed and evaluated the submittals and forwarded a contractor recommendation for the design and rebuild later that month. The process is now in contract negotiation phase. Once that in complete, the City will be able to announce the selected contractor and release more information about the project, including timeline,” said Wan in an email to CBS46.

Many businesses said city officials have not done enough to remain transparent with the public about this construction project.

“We have to poke and prod to get any information coming through. That’s been really frustrating for everybody,” said Takahara, who fears more businesses will leave before construction is completed.

Duke said the city also needs to do more to address the ongoing fires under nearby bridges.

“This is a problem that has to be addressed, too. You can rebuild the bridge. It can be a magnificent bridge. If it burns again, and again, and again, what do you do,” said Duke.