The state didn't necessarily plan its construction schedule to accommodate area businesses, but it seems to have worked out that way.
Construction work to replace the Rattlesnake Creek bridge will begin six weeks later than expected, allowing more time for tourism season to wind down before that portion of U.S. 250 closes.
Ohio Department of Transportation District 3 spokesman, Brian Stacy, said the contractor, Mosser Construction of Fremont, came forward Wednesday with its construction schedule and will begin work Oct. 15. That means they won't need to close the road until Oct. 18, rather than Labor Day as planned. The closure is expected to last until April 15.
Signs will be placed about 500 feet north and south of the bridge, at Ohio 113, or Church Street, and at Ohio 61 in downtown Norwalk.
Mosser Construction was one of seven companies who submitted bids for the project and estimated the cost at $1.5 million.
Norwalk Mayor Sue Lesch said she and other officials were pleased to hear the bridge won't close on Labor Day.
Area businesses worried about losing customers from the closure in the final weeks of the peak tourism season.
ODOT District 3 deputy director, John Hart, drove the detour route himself and approved signs on U.S. 250 that will allow for a more direct route to area businesses, Lesch said.
"They know we've been concerned, and I think they've been responsive," Lesch said. "(They) wanted to encourage Mosser employees to eat at businesses along U.S. 250, and they're very accustomed to working with businesses during projects."
Businesses along the detour may even enjoy an added boost in sales, they said.
Stacy Reer, an employee at the Coffee Station on Church Street in Milan, said the small shop may advertise specials to take advantage of the added traffic.
"They'll have to drive right by us every day," Reer said. "And by the time they open that road back up again, they'll be hooked."