Store owners said that sales were down 50 percent to 80 percent. Work hours have been cut. Sales tax collections have plummeted even as city expenses for things like police overtime — patrolling the detour routes and keeping curious “looky-loos,” as Mr. Harrison called them, away from the bridge site — have soared.
That a 160-foot section of highway bridge could catastrophically fail without causing serious injuries — cars into the river, passengers treated and released — is still a source of head-shaking wonder. About 70,000 vehicles used the half-century-old steel truss bridge every day, and the evening rush had barely ebbed when, around 7 p.m. last Thursday, a truck’s oversize load struck a girder, crumpling the structure in a chain of events still being investigated by federal authorities.