In order to repair bridges over East Branch Eight Mile River and Swamp Brook, the state has closed part of Route 82 in Salem from July 19 until at least September 21, according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation. The project, which was awarded to the Brunalli Construction Company for more than $5 million last year, is scheduled to finish on November 7.
The two bridges, both built in 1924, are located a mere 200 feet apart, and the closure affects just a quarter mile of highway. Still, it has already had an impact on at least one small business: Salem Valley Farms Ice Cream. A small-batch, homemade ice cream shop that has been in operation for more than 30 years, Salem Valley Farms is located just a few hundred feet from Route 82.
Coming at the height of summer, the closure led Salem Valley Farms to post on their Facebook page to warn customers that they may not be able to reach the shop as easily. However, Cassidy Corey, manager of Salem Valley Farms Ice Cream, said the detour has actually led to more visitors, not fewer.
“It’s actually been beneficial, because everybody has to go this way because of the detour,” Corey said. “We’re definitely busier than usual.”
To get around the closure, many drivers now need to drive up Darling Road, where they directly pass Salem Valley Farms.
Still, Salem Valley Farms owner Matt Viens cautions that it is “too soon to tell” whether the closure will end up hurting or helping.
“So far, we seem to be holding our own, but I won’t know for a few weeks until we see how sales and daily visits are evaluated,” Viens said.
Viens also shared that, next season Salem Valley Farms will open a “commissary” at Salem Center to help grow the business and keep up with demand. Ice cream will be made at both locations, but the commissary will allow the business to expand production and double the storage capacity, Viens said.