LACON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — A lifeline for the majority of businesses in the city of Lacon, the Lacon Bridge reopened Friday morning after a nearly 8-month closure for rehabilitation.
The bridge closure blocked entry into Lacon for nearby areas, such as Chillicothe and Sparland. A detour through Henry was the only way for some to get to the city.
For Stephanie Gilkerson, who owns and manages Frosmokes Meatery on the Lacon marina, the anticipation has been palpable.
“You think you’d just get used to it, but we were definitely counting down the days, these last 28 days we were pretty excited,” she said.
Gilkerson said the traffic limitations caused her to lose almost half her regular business. With the pathway now clear, she’s hopeful that there will be an uptick in business.
The positive spirits extend past the restaurants, however.
Cindy Miller, who owns a seasonal decor shop in Lacon called Midwest Farm Charm, said she lost about 40% of her business because of the bridge closure. She is also happy to see the bridge reopened.
“It didn’t really hit me in the summer because in the summer we’re slower anyway, at least my business is. But then, come September, October, with all the fall decorating, yeah it took a hit,” Miller said.
The bridge last underwent repairs back in 1990. The $11.3 million project was part of Gov. JB Pritzker’s “Rebuild Illinois” initiative. It consisted of structural steel repairs, navigational lighting, a concrete overlay, and more.
Kieghan Edwards works at Mr. Mike’s Place, a Lacon marina eatery. He was happy to see the improved bridge, even if it meant diminished sales.
“The bridge hadn’t been touched in I believe 30 years, so there was a lot of work to be done. And I’m glad they did it when they did it, and hopefully the next step would be the Henry bridge,” he said.
One thing that Gilkerson will miss is the bridge construction workers, who became regular customers.
“A lot were local, so hopefully they’ll be back because they had a lot of favorites that they got every week,” she continued, “They were great at supporting all of us here in town, they made their rounds each week.”
Next weekend, there will be an event in Lacon called “Hometown Holiday”, where the city will celebrate Veterans Day, the upcoming holiday season, and the reopening of the Lacon Bridge.