Willard Bridge opening leaves neighbors thrilled

WILLARD, Kan. (KSNT) — With the Willard Bridge dedication ceremony on August 28, 2017 and the bridge now open, that means shorter commute times for neighbors and fewer worries for many business owners in the area.

At Dora’s Closet and Antiques in Rossville, anyone can come in and get anything from clothes to knick knacks. Store owner, Dora Reynolds has owned the store for almost four years and hasn’t worried about sales until the Willard Bridge closed in June.

“Business has been kind of down from it because people can’t get across the bridge,” Reynolds said. “People travelling through, of course on the interstate, had to go to Topeka to come back here which they didn’t do.”

The bridge closure caused a 22-mile detour for neighbors wanting to get from Willard to Rossville. Reynolds says she usually sees up to 20 customers a day but these last few months it’s only been five. Because of that, she said she’s had special sales running just to get more customers.

“Today’s a good day to celebrate with it opening and that’s what a lot of us are feeling,” Reynolds said. “Hopefully it’ll pick things back up again.”

Reynolds isn’t the only person glad about the grand opening of the bridge. A family in Willard said just to get to St. Mary’s, they’ve had to drive a few extra miles and go through Maple Hill. But the drive isn’t the only thing they’re excited about.

“We’re really happy because we’ve been living in Willard for 33 years and there was no pedestrian lane,” neighbor MaryAnn Tardiff said.

Now you can ride your bike and take a walk next to the cars driving by. The completion of the bridge was more than $6 million under budget and is expected to last about a century.

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