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Highway 50 Back Open Means Business Can Return, But Closure 'Impacts Will Last For Years'

Placerville (CBS13) - Highway 50 back open means back to business and tourism but the reopening day wasn't as busy as some expected.

"Right now, for example, we are kind of slow because people aren't going up the highway like we anticipated," said Robert Huston owner of Buttercup Pantry in Placerville.

He didn't know what to expect now that Highway 50 is back open to everyone.

Last month the Caldor Fire shut down the Highway 50 corridor impacting businesses like Robert's.

No traffic meant fewer customers.

"Things were really booming coming out of COVID and then we ended up having a kind of a slowdown standstill about 10% down from previous years," he explained.

Laurel Brent-Bumb, CEO of the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce says it wasn't just businesses that took a hit but also people and the county.

"We know that it's in the millions," she said referring to total revenue loss.

Although she didn't have exact numbers, she tells CBS13 the financial blow isn't temporary.

"The impacts will last for years," she said.

Now work is being done to get a multi-million-dollar grant for recovery.

Workers like Martha Borges, manager of a Fresh Pond gas station along Highway 50 hope for change.

"It's the middle of the week but I'm sure this weekend it'll pick up," she said.

As for Robert, he says fall will be his saving grace for business again.

"We have Apple Hill opening up this time of the year, so things are starting to perk up a little bit," he explained.

Work is still being done on Highway 50. Drivers are urged to be on the lookout for fire trucks and tree-removal vehicles.

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