Cumberland Times-News

Local News

July 17, 2014

Washed out bridge may force business to close

— OLDTOWN — A “For Sale” sign now sits outside the Green Spring Pub. “I’m telling you right now I’m about to throw in the towel,” said owner Ray Emerick. “I’m going to have to sell.”

The Oldtown bridge is washed out and the timeline for repair is months long and still uncertain, according to the bridge’s owner. Many of the pub’s customers rely on the bridge to get to work and stop in for food and drinks.

It may mean the end for both the business and the free coffee and soda Emerick offers for designated drivers. First it was the toll increases in 2012; now, the bridge is washed out for the time being. Emerick has owned the pub since 2005.

“I’m not getting any business from across the river,” Emerick said. “There are many customers I don’t see anymore. I doubt very much I’ll be open this time next year.” Emerick said his for sale sign says “thanks” to the bridge.

Not only does the pub serve typical pub fair, but Emerick sells beer, cigarettes and prepared food. Across the river sits the Oldtown area of Maryland, where a good many of the pub’s customers live and then travel to work at several nearby locations in West Virginia, including Koppers, a manufacturing facility for railroad ties and related products in Green Spring. Now the long detour eats up their gas cash and time, making them less likely to stop in, Emerick said. Trips that used to take 20 minutes now take 40 minutes.

One resident of the area says the visits to her mother in a nursing home now takes an hour and 45 minutes rather than the hour they used to because of not being able to use the bridge.

The toll increases of 2012 were approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission. The bridge will be closed for several months, owner Lori Roberts said. She owns the bridge through her company, Historical Oldtown Bridge Preservation, LLC. It is the only privately owned toll bridge in Maryland. The bridge was washed out by flooding June 12. The bridge crosses the Potomac River between Oldtown and Green Spring. About 200,000 vehicle crossings occur each year at the bridge, according to tollroadnews.com. The bridge is the only river crossing for 15 miles in either direction, and closure of the bridge results in long detours for residents of the area and those going to and from work.

Damage to the bridge included portions of the decking being washed away and twisting of steel support beams, Dick DeVore, Allegany County director of emergency services, has said.

Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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