Business owners in Maclean are being adversely affected by the closure of McFarlane Bridge.
Business owners in Maclean are being adversely affected by the closure of McFarlane Bridge. Adam Hourigan

Bridge closure carries a high cost in collateral damage

MACLEAN business owners have felt more than just a pinch from the works being done on McFarlane Bridge, with less traffic able to get into town and less business going out.

Maclean Chamber of Commerce president John Riggall said people on the west side of the bridge had to do a 40km detour to get into Maclean when the bridge was out.

"Where they would usually take a two-minute drive into town to do their shopping, they just end up going to Grafton because it takes the same amount of time," Mr Riggall said.

"It is a total disaster for some of our smaller businesses."

Mr Riggall said he had seen about four businesses in Maclean close down in the past 18 months.

"It's really hurting the town and employment," he said.

One Lawrence business owner has felt the full effect of the road closures from her side of the river.

While she asked not to be named, this business owner said her clientele had dropped from 230 to 150 in less than 18 months and she had lost in excess of $75,000 because she was unable to reach her regular clients on time when the bridge was closed.

"My business has been established for over seven years and I have had it for three years, and now it is going to the debt collectors because of this bridge," she said.

"It's affected us big time; I'm about to lose my house because of this."

The business owner said travelling the long way around to Maclean meant an extra 50 minutes driving each way and when towing a trailer full of machinery, that meant a whopping increase in fuel costs.

"What I can't believe is that RMS won't compensate us for anything," she said.

A Roads and Maritime Services spokesman said the closures were expected to finish after work tomorrow, but works would not be completed until next year.