In 21st century America, highways are the life blood of the nation. This summer, federal stimulus funds ahve been used to upgrade roads and bridges around the state; the impact to commuters and tourists alike has not gone unnoticed.
Now comes the news that Route 103 will be closed in the summer of 2011 for the reconstruction of the two bridges leading into Chester. The construction project will create a major impact on tourism and local businesses in the area. The question in 2010 is how to prepare for the highway closure and turn a local business negative into a positive.
To address the looming closing, Chester residents gathered to hear the Rotary Club of Chester on the matter. The club made a donation toward a matching USDA grant that will help publicize Chester and summer of 2011 events during the closing of Route 103.
Chester United, a group of concerned citizens and businesses in the area headed up an effort to submit a grant application to the USDA for funding to attract tourists to the town.
Shawn Cunningham, one of the Chester United founders, met with the Chester Rotary Club to update the members about the plans to date.
According to Cunningham, "the closing of Route 103 is caused by the need to repair or replace two bridges on the road leading into Chester. The work will cause traffic to be detoured around the town and effectively cut off easy access to and from Interstate-91. This, in turn, will affect many of the businesses that rely on tourists for income. It will affect restaurants, retail stores motels, bed and breakfasts, inns and employment."
Cunningham also said, "The USDA grant has been awarded to Chester United. The money will be used to publicize the Town of Chester, the events taking place and much more information to attract tourists and visitors."