'New and improved Padanaram:' Community ready for causeway reopening
Businesses in Padanaram are gearing up for a surge of customers and a strong summer season as the bridge and causeway which links the village to Smith Neck and southern Dartmouth is set to reopen next month.
The Padanaram causeway, which has been closed since 2016 for a $9.2 million renovation project targeting roadway, drainage, structural, and lighting improvements, will reopen to traffic on June 11. Mimi Powell, part of Farm and Coast Market’s management team, is already planning a party to celebrate with food and free admission, although a date has not yet been set.
The Bridge Street market opened shortly after the causeway was closed. Powell credited an upped social media presence, website updates, and a winter coupon promotion with keeping business steady. She’s anxiously excited for the causeway to reopen.
“We’re a little anxious about the parking situation because it’s already difficult and there’s not that much traffic here yet, but we look forward to seeing all of those people we haven’t seen before and hope that they’ll find their way in here,” Powell said.
Powell has lived in Padanaram for much of her life, and lived through one bridge closure while she was in high school.
“It’s hard,” Powell said. “It’s an adjustment if you live over there, but once you start just biting the bullet and making the trip around, you just get used to it.”
Ann Sadow has owned Flora with her husband Richard since 2000. She said the bridge opening will give people a reason to come and see all of the upgrades to the area.
“I think the traffic flow will grow exponentially and we’re just really excited for people to see all of the beautiful new sidewalks, and the new lighting,” Sadow said. “It’s kind of new and improved Padanaram.”
Sadow, like Farm and Coast Market, stepped up her social media presence to get more customers as visits became less frequent, and advertised the trip as only being a few minutes longer. She is going to participate in the party at Farm and Coast Market.
Dartmouth resident Jane Hoffman spent Friday walking around the village and bought an elephant pot at Dahlia Living. She misses walking the causeway, and can’t wait to see the impact it has on the town again.
“It’s going to be a relief and I also think it’s going to be just beautiful,” Hoffman said. “I mean, it’s going to enhance the whole village and it’s just an elegant beautiful waterway. It will be just so wonderful to be able to take a walk out there.”
Dahlia Living owner and 20-year Padanaram resident Natalie Sine lives on the other side of the bridge, and said it's time for it to reopen.
"It's going to be beautiful," Sine said. "The improvements in the whole area are gorgeous, but I believe we could use those 20,000 people that live on the other side of the bridge to come and join us."
Wendy Joblon, owner of kids clothing and stationary store Folia, is excited to resume her daily bike rides across the causeway. Although she’s been in business for eight years, she changed over to selling kids clothes just as the bridge closed. Business has been okay, but she is ready for it to pick up once the causeway reopens.
The opening will also benefit public safety, according to Fire District No. 1 Chief Brad Ellis. The detours add about five to six extra miles to get to the other side of the bridge. In major emergencies, Ellis said those extra miles could be the difference between life or death, although the district hasn’t faced such an issue since the causeway closed.
“When an emergency is happening time matters,” he said.
As a precaution, the district stationed a backup fire engine in Nonquitt, but it lacks medical equipment and the jaws of life.