Mary and Tom Johnson own the Park Place Market just north of the Bull Shoals Lake bridge on Highway 160 and say their business relies on traffic using the bridge.
"We do have customers that live on that side of the lake that I won't see anymore, I'm going to say probably 20 or 30 percent," says Tom Johnson.
Beth Schaller is the the MODOT area engineer for Taney County and says the bridge is not falling apart but it needs to be repaired or replaced.
"We have a rating system, it's rated a five which is actually fairly good. A lot of times a bridge will get down to a three before we really consider it critical and needing to be addressed."
The new bridge is a multi-million dollar project and it’s paid with tax dollars and federal grants.
"The estimated cost on the bridge is about 5.4 million including the dirt work and everything to get up to the bridge is about 6.6 million," says Schaller.
Charles Allgood, the Central Taney County Fire Protection District fire chief, says closing the bridge would cripple his response time and force his department to rely on others in the area.
"That could take us up to an hour to get any people or units additional units to that scene," says Allgood.
Hey says a third of his 825 calls are on the south side of the bridge.
"It would drastically affect those citizens on that side of the river but we will do everything, if possible, to make sure that we give the upmost protection for our people out there."
Beth says after hearing from the public, they know closing the bridge before a new one is built is not an option.
"It's going to cost us more money to be able to build a new bridge and put it on a new alignment, but by listening to what the public wants, we are going to have to spend a few more dollars."
That’s something that Tom, Mary and Chief Allgood all agree.
"Anytime they work on a highway or anything at all, it slows traffic down, and as a result, business dies."
The public hearing will help MODOT decide where to build the new bridge. It is scheduled for Tuesday, February 4 at 5 PM at Forsyth High School.
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