NewsKey Bridge Collapse


"Are we going to survive?" Impact on businesses cut off from bridge traffic

Posted at 5:15 PM, Apr 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-18 17:42:15-04

CURTIS BAY, Md. — Traffic barrels and police vehicles still block off the entrance to the Key Bridge and I-695 East on Fort Armistead Road.

The main artery connecting Curtis Bay to Dundalk and Sparrows Point was cut off overnight, the day the bridge collapsed. For business owners, that means a lot of their customers are cut off too.

“I think our business - like 60% - it depends on the highway," Rajan Tripathi, owner of the Hawkins Point Citgo and Quik Mart on Fort Smallwood Road, said. "It used to be a lot of trucks, for the diesel and a lot of business from 695 so now we don't have any [of that]."

Fewer cars means fewer customers. Tripathi says sales were already down after the pandemic.

"We have local business, but after COVID, there are so many businesses that closed, moved away, so it is impacting really bad."

Just down the street, the owner of Jack's Auto Repair is used to seeing heavy traffic outside his business, and most importantly, seeing those drivers turn into customers. Joseph Brown's family has owned the shop since 1966; he's worked here since he was 12.

"Now I would say about 70 to 75% less traffic flow right in front of us. Sometimes in the morning it's a ghost town coming to work," Brown said.

Three weeks have passed. There's still a long way to go.

"In six months or a year it could be even less traffic because now people are starting to get used to going through the tunnel and not coming through here. So for the next couple years we're gonna be affected by that, no doubt," Brown said.

It's not just hard for customers to get to these businesses, but some of their employees too. Eric Emery lives on the other side of the bridge in Dundalk. His commute to Artworx Tattoo in the Curtis Bay area was no big deal, about 15 minutes door-to-door.


"Like 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic and how many tankers are riding around,"Emery said.

He's already considering finding another place to live, closer to work.

"Tough it out. Make it work," he said.

The state is offering small business grants and no-interest loans to impacted businesses. The application period opens on April 22. For many business owners, it can't come soon enough.

"Are we gonna survive? Are we gonna consider selling it or maybe we have to close down, we don't know. So we are really worried about it," Tripathi said.

Tripathi explains the state of his business:

Citgo/Quik Mart owner said business was already down from the pandemic

"You just come to work every day, one day at a time, one job at a time. And you don't know what tomorrow's gonna bring. So you just keep going. There's nothing you can do about it," Brown said.

For more information on eligibility and how to apply for those grants and loans, click here.