"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, March 12 2014 12:27 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:27:22 GMT
Town meeting day didn't bode well for dozens of school budgets across the state. Now the Burlington City Council is looking to cut costs after voters rejected school spending hikes. The council votedMore >>
Town meeting day didn't bode well for dozens of school budgets across the state. Now the Burlington City Council is looking to cut costs after voters rejected school spending hikes.More >>
Wednesday, March 12 2014 12:26 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:26:45 GMT
The Vermont Senate has loosened restrictions on the state's medical marijuana dispensaries. The bill passed Tuesday allows an unlimited number of qualified Vermonters to access medical marijuana -- removing theMore >>
The Vermont Senate has loosened restrictions on the state's medical marijuana dispensaries.More >>
Wednesday, March 12 2014 12:26 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:26:03 GMT
A St. George man is behind bars accused of stealing from an elderly South Burlington woman. 43-year-old Craig Dubuque was arrested for the alleged financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Police sayMore >>
A St. George man is behind bars accused of stealing from an elderly South Burlington woman.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 11:35 PM EDT2014-03-12 03:35:07 GMT
"You know, people say you might not need it, which is true, but this way you get a choice. I don't have to go out tomorrow," said Lorinda Henry of Milton. Henry says she hit the grocery stores TuesdayMore >>
Parts of Vermont could get up to 24 inches of snow in the coming storm. And VTrans officials are warning drivers they may not be able to keep up with the storm rolling in Wednesday.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 8:02 PM EDT2014-03-12 00:02:07 GMT
"Seems like it was just yesterday. Doesn't seem like it's been two years at all," said Glenda Reandeau of Tupper Lake. Residents of Tupper Lake still have their eyes out for Colin Gillis, a now 20-year-oldMore >>
Colin Gillis of Tupper Lake, N.Y., disappeared two years ago. And authorities are still searching for him. They say the investigation now focuses on tips from the public and from those who were the last to see Gillis.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 6:17 PM EDT2014-03-11 22:17:43 GMT
A Rutland City Police officer is recovering at home after a crash involving his cruiser. Authorities say Officer Adam Lucia was one of two officers responding to an aggravated assault call Monday at TopsMore >>
A Rutland City Police officer is recovering at home after a crash involving his cruiser.More >>