SEATTLE - Business owners in South Seattle have dire predictions for their future after they learned a new South Park Bridge won't be finished on time.
Merchants who operate in the neighborhood said the bridge, which links South Park to Seattle, is their lifeline to survival.
Neighbors and business owners met with King County officials Thursday and were told digging through the Duwamish Riverbed was more difficult than expected.
Business owners were hoping that 14th Avenue South would be coursing with traffic and customers.
Instead, business owner Raymundo Olivas predicts businesses will shut down and boards will go up along 14th Avenue South in the next few months.
Olivas said business owners were promised a new South Park bridge would be finished next year, bringing 20,000 cars a day down his street.
Those merchants were told the bridge won't be open until 2014.
Bill Owens was hoping his pet supply shop would survive another 10 months, when the bridge was supposed to be finished.
“The timing couldn’t be worse,” said Owens. “As businessmen, it’s a real simple equation. What we need are more customers,” said Owens.
King County officials told business owners they're as frustrated by the delays as everyone else.
“We’ve been working on this for 10 years, so we’re trying to get to the end as fast as we can and it’s going to be a beautiful bridge. When it’s finally done, I think everybody’s going to really enjoy what it is,” said Rick Brater with the county.
Olivas said by that time, his business could be gone.
“We don’t depend on the government. But when the government cuts down your feet, how are you supposed to survive?” said Olivas.
Some positive news came out of the meeting. The Seattle City Council decided to give merchants here $150,000 to help market their businesses.