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As Highway 55 remains closed, here's what some Weiser businesses near Highway 95 are experiencing

highway 55 roadwork
Posted at 11:16 PM, Nov 30, 2021

WEISER, Idaho — Sierra Wilson is the owner of The Sassy Women Boutique & Salon in Downtown Weiser. She opened her business in September, and so far, has found great support from the community.

“We’ve been really fortunate. I know a lot of people here in town and have a good support system,” Wilson said.

In the last couple of days, she’s also seen new customers come through her doors.

“I realized there was a road closure Wednesday when probably about 50 percent of people coming in that day weren’t from here. Got to meet new people, and they came to check the shop out, and it was a really good week,” Wilson said.

Wilson and other local businesses in Weiser are seeing an uptick in customers as travelers are driving through Highway 95 since Highway 55 near Smiths Ferry remains closed.

“Every time Highway 55 closes down, we see a definite influx in traffic, not just traveling on Highway 95 but definitely coming into town and visiting our location in downtown Weiser,” said Patrick Nauman, owner of Weiser Classic Candy.

Weiser Classic Candy .jpg
Patrick Nauman, owner of Weiser Classic Candy restocks candy packages on the shelve on Tuesday afternoon.

Nauman said their sales have increased since the closure of Highway 55.

“If it happens to be their first time that they visited the store while they are traveling around and detouring around Highway 55, we hope to entice them to keep coming back this way," Nauman said. "We have a huge customer base out of the Boise valley. Once they discover Weiser Classic Candy and once they discovered some of the towns along Highway 95 and everything we have to offer, a lot of them continue to travel this way,” Nauman said.

Highway 55 Smiths Ferry to Round Valley closed "another 7-10 days," local businesses feel impact

Highway 55 was forced to close after a rockslide occurred on November 18, according to ITD.

On November 28, the Idaho Transportation Department announced that Highway 55 will continue to be closed between Smiths Ferry and Round Valley Road for about 7 to 10 more days, depending on the weather.

“Crews made significant progress today (November 28) shoring up the rock slide area near the Rainbow Bridge, about 20 miles south of Cascade, Idaho. Construction crews have completed construction of a rock wall, known as a buttress, approximately 20-feet tall and 400-feet long to stabilize the base of the slide. The next step is to remove slide debris, install drainage systems above the buttress, and widen the roadway to two lanes before the winter.” -ITD Facebook

CASCADE BUSINESS FEELS THE IMPACTS OF HIGHWAY 55 CLOSURE

The closure of Highway 55 is painting a different kind of picture for one Cascade business.

“We have been impacted a lot. Anytime you have less travelers on the road you’re going to see a significant reduction in the amount of sales and customers. I know lots of surrounding businesses had to cut hours for employees. We're just seeing an overall impact on the community," said Lance Heindel , co-owner of Clear Creek Station.

Heindel runs a restaurant, bar, and RV park with hotel just seven miles south of Cascade. He’s also seeing cancellations on their Airbnb rentals.

“We had one of our guests end up canceling their trip because of it during Thanksgiving and then we had an additional cancel tonight (Wednesday) as well," he said.

A spokesperson with ITD said crews are continuing to work on the road.

"Our goal is to have the road open by this upcoming Wednesday (Dec. 8), depending on the weather," said Vincent Trimboli with ITD.

Heindel explained that he's gotten community support as they await for the road to reopen.

"It’s just super really important for us to get this road back open so we can start thriving again," Heindel said.