Burlington’s Economy After the Bridge Collapse

“No one wants to get out of the queue,” said the city administrator, Bryan Harrison, whose office is only a few blocks from the creeping line of detoured cars and trucks. “It’s looking worse than the recession.”

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.

The value of infrastructure to a local economy can be found in the aftermath of last week’s bridge collapse in Burlington, Wash., where businesses are now struggling to find customers. Cars still go through the town, but the traffic is now so thick due to detours that few people want to stop. It’s the ripple effect in action.

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