Canadian Shoppers Not Returning After Skagit River Bridge Repaired
Although the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River has been repaired for several months, the economic impacts are still visible.
According to a study performed by Western Washington University, Canadian traffic to businesses in Western Washington has dropped by as much as 80 percent.
The Border Policy Research team at the university actually began the study a month prior to the May 23 collapse of the bridge, which made headlines nationwide.
The team began counting Canadian license plates at a Costco store in Marysville, Washington, and expanded it to other key retail destinations. Following the collapse, the study found as much as an 80-percent drop in the number of vehicles and apparently it's stayed that way. The collapse of the bridge essentially cut off many visitors and tourists from getting into areas north of Seattle and down the I-5 corridor. It appears they began to shop elsewhere.
While some Canadians are resuming their visits to the U.S. to save money on wholesale goods, the Small Business Administration reports many retailers -- especially smaller, local businesses -- have been using loans to help offset the losses.
The loans were expanded to include parts of Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Island and even Chelan counties.
The I-5 corridor has been one of the most important, if not the biggest, avenues for Canadian visitors who spend tens of millions of dollars in our state each month.