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Newport businesses dread anticipated traffic ahead of bridge repairs

A major, and necessary repair job on the Newport Bridge, promises to create traffic snarls during June and in the fall months, as well. (WJAR)

The tourism and hospitality business in Newport has to contend with factors out of its control, including weather and gas prices.

Now, it has to deal with bridge work.

A major, and necessary repair job on the Newport Bridge, promises to create traffic snarls during June and in the fall months, as well.

The Turnpike and Bridge Authority, or RITBA, is able to open all lanes on the bridge during July and August, but two lanes will be closed during the work.

“The two shoulder seasons, May-June and then October, are super busy months for us,” Evan Smith, who heads Discover Newport, told NBC 10 News. “There are big events in the spring, like the Oyster festival, college graduations, prep-school graduations, proms.”

Smith is appreciative of the coordination offered by RITBA, and knows the work is necessary. His goal is to make sure events go off as planned.

“We do want to put out a travel advisory so people know, we want them to allow ample time to get here so if they’re coming to a wedding to add another 30 minutes to their travel time."

Merchants are worried, nonetheless. Debbie Monastesse manages a store there.

“I definitely think it’s going to hurt,” she said.

One of Smith’s strategies is to advise visitors coming from the north that they don’t even need to use the bridge.

“They have an option to come down (Route) 24 and the eastern gateway to the island, as opposed to the western gateway,” he said, taking the toll-free Sakonnet River Bridge.

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