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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Cheshire Bridge fire impacts residents, businesses

Molly Thompson
On the 20th of Dec. 2023, a section of Cheshire Bridge Road caught fire causing road shutdowns between Wellbourne Dr. and Woodland Ave.

A section of Cheshire Bridge Road near Faulkner Road caught fire for the second time in just over two years, causing road restrictions that impact local businesses. The fire originated from homeless encampments under the bridge and is predicted to be under construction for 10 weeks.

Sam’s Hair Salon on Cheshire Bridge has been open for 20 years. After barely recovering from the 15-month road closure in August 2021 that also resulted from homeless encampments under the bridge, owner Samroni Samroni said his business is down 40-50% because of the recent road closures.

“We just tried to survive from the first bridge (fire),” Samroni said. “During the holiday season, we have a lot of work in last-minute haircuts or hair color services. We don’t have many [walk-ins] because nobody can see our business.”

Samroni’s business is located on Faulkner Road, which is between two sections of road closures on Cheshire Bridge. Many of Samroni’s customers are unaware his establishment is still reachable through local roads, and so they no longer visit it.

“When people drive from both directions, they think that our business is closed, so they just turn away,” Samroni said. “You can still go to my business, but you just have to find it.”

According to Samroni, new hair stylists who have a smaller clientele are most negatively impacted.

“It’s really hard for us, especially the new hair stylists,” Samroni said. “When [new hairstylists] just move to my business, they can build clientele little by little, but because of the bridge, it is really hard for them and for us to build a business.”

Other businesses along Faulkner Road are experiencing similar struggles. Although Avant Gardener does not operate from within its headquarters as Sam’s hair salon does, and instead makes trips to transport its designs around Midtown, owner Rick Sisson said he is still experiencing significant losses to his business.

“The financial part is just expensive,” Sissons said. “My clients don’t come to our office like they would at Sam’s Hair Salon, for example, but it’s more paying my employees extra time to reroute and to sit in traffic.”

The effect of the Cheshire Bridge fires have caused Simmons to consider moving to a different location.

“It is making me question, ‘Do I really want to continue to stay in [this] location?’” Simmons said. “So, it’s a little scary because Faulkner is between two bridges.That makes me the most nervous, and it makes me question if this is a really good location to be at.”

During the most recent Cheshire Bridge fire, Simmons saw the smoke and reported it to the police.

“This latest bridge [fire], I personally called the fire department,” Simmons said. “It was an early Saturday morning, and I was going into the office, and I saw smoke coming from under the bridge, so I called the fire department.”

Samroni said he has had to report smoke coming from the bridge to the fire department multiple times in the last couple of years.

“So, the truth is that the bridge caught on fire more than one time,” Samroni said. “This is the worst one, the one they had to close. Sometimes, we see the smoke and then we call the police and then they take care of it. Not only one time, I believe, more than 10 times [that has happened].”

Residents such as Jay Bolas, are unhappy with the level of maintenance of the bridges and how that affects quality of life in the community.

“With the number of bridge fires, people must feel distrustful, some sense of helplessness [and] hopelessness,” said Bolas, a long-time resident of the area.

Bolas also said there has been a lack of communication about the timeline for the bridge’s reconstruction.

“Uncertainty is everything,” Bolas said. “It’s devastating. I think people have lost trust in representation.”

Bolas said he hopes impacted business can survive the current street closure.

“There’s a psychological consideration from area residents and consumers to sort of now stay away, even though those businesses are still trying to survive,” Bolas said.

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About the Contributor
Molly Thompson
Molly Thompson, A&E Associate Managing Editor
Molly Thompson is a junior in her third year on the Southerner staff. She is a member of the cross country team and plays soccer. Apart from school and sports, Molly loves spending time with her friends, reading, and hanging out with her pets.

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