"I purchased this store in November of 2000 and it was in that little space next door. And in April of 2002 we moved in here," said Pam Fowler, who owns the local bookstore in Bellows Falls.
Fowler says when the store was doomed to close over a decade ago, she decided buy it. For years the business was booming, especially from customers coming in on weekends from neighboring New Hampshire towns. "You can hear right now -- normally we would have a lot of traffic passing by, and it's really quieted down," she said. "And if you think that 4,000 cars used to pass over that bridge every day."
But several years ago, the Vilas bridge closed to all traffic, cutting off the town's New Hampshire connection. Although a temporary bridge was built North of Bellows Falls, Fowler says the traffic now goes around the center of town, and businesses have definitely taken a huge hit.
"It made a major impact to the merchants down here," said Tom MacPhee, Chairman of the Bellows Falls Selectboard. MacPhee says since the bridge has closed business has dropped in town by at least 30 percent. But getting the bridge back open isn't going to be cheap. He says it will cost an estimated $6.6 million. What's even more tricky, MacPhee says, is Vermont only owns a fraction of the bridge, so it is up to New Hampshire to foot the bill. "New Hampshire is going to pick up 93 percent of the bridge -- Vermont 7 percent, so we are not getting their attention. Even though we've been on the short list -- been kicked off the short list -- so I don't even know for sure where we are," MacPhee said.
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation says the project is not in its 10-year improvement plan. But MacPhee says they are reaching out to Vermont legislators. Just weeks ago, the selectboard sent a letter to Governor Shumlin asking for help. "Anything -- whether they can encourage New Hampshire to help us, or help them get along and maybe even provide more than 7 percent to help. I don't know, we are just saying what can you do? If anything," MacPhee said.
As for Fowler back at the bookstore, she says local merchants are trying to hold on until the bridge is re-opened. Although the silence can make reading easier, she says it's been too quiet around town.
Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:52 PM EDT2014-04-17 03:52:17 GMT
The Stowe Police Department is currently investigating the untimely death of two adults. Stowe Police responded to 262 Cady Hill Road at 4:38 p.m. and discovered deceased individuals. The Stowe PoliceMore >>
The Stowe Police Department is currently investigating the untimely death of two adults.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:49 PM EDT2014-04-17 03:49:04 GMT
Major flaws were uncovered in the Burlington School Budget that failed at the polls. An audit has discovered that the district was making huge errors when budgeting for next year. What this means, is thatMore >>
Major flaws were uncovered in the Burlington School Budget that failed at the polls. An audit has discovered that the district was making huge errors when budgeting for next year.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:53:47 GMT
Teamwork between a Montgomery farmer and a corporal with the Franklin Country sheriff's department may have saved a life when they pulled off a daring rescue. A woman became trapped in her truck tryingMore >>
It was a lifesaving rescue in the nick of time. A Franklin County sheriff's deputy put his life on the line to save a woman trapped in a truck with floodwaters raging around her. More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:00 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:00:55 GMT
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin (D-Vermont), VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath. ShumlinMore >>
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin, VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:02 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:02:05 GMT
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York. The governor made the declaration Tuesday night. It covers six counties in northeastern of New York, including two inMore >>
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:21 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:21:46 GMT
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire. Michael Hayward, 42, of Sunapee, disappeared two months ago. His car was found near the Quechee Gorge. PoliceMore >>
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:14:24 GMT
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. First responders say when they arrived at 42 Smith Street, the house was completely engulfed in flames. CityMore >>
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. Police say the blaze was sparked by a child playing with a lighter.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:07 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:07:50 GMT
Police in Haverhill, N.H., say they got numerous calls about a young child walking down a road alone. They found the child about a mile from her home. She was brought back to the residence, but the NewMore >>
Police in Haverhill, N.H., say they found a young child alone about a mile from her home.More >>