MONTEBELLO – One more roadblock near Hank Quach’s liquor store and he may as well be marooned on a deserted island. The burning and subsequent closure of the Beverly Boulevard bridge spanning the Rio Hondo flood-control channel this past week is just the latest in a series of major roadway troubles in a 3-square-mile section of Montebello and Pico Rivera. Ongoing construction on Whittier Boulevard in downtown Montebello and the closure in October of the rain-damaged Rosemead Boulevard bridge – it has since been reopened – compounded losses suffered by many small businesses like Quach’s and have given commuters headaches as they strive to find alternate routes. Standing outside his store, cigarette in hand, Quach looked down the abandoned section of Beverly Boulevard, hoping customers will find their way around the barricades on Poplar Avenue that mark where the road is closed. Quach has lost nearly 80 percent of his daily business since Tuesday, he said. “My business is completely dead,” Quach said. “The only customers I get are the ones who live close by. We lost a lot last time it was closed. I really don’t think my business can survive for as long as it will take to fix. Any bad weather and it will probably be the end.” Two of three major arteries running east and west through Montebello and one running north and south through Pico Rivera have effectively been blocked or slowed by the recent bridge closings and construction over the past two months. In addition, Lincoln Avenue, the alternate east-west route, often closes during the rainy season due to runoff from the Montebello Hills. According to Tom Melendrez, deputy city engineer for Montebello, an average of 30,000 vehicles a day travel on each of Beverly, Whittier and Washington boulevards. He said city officials are working on ordering signs and adjusting traffic lights to steer motorists to alternate routes. Montebello and Pico Rivera officials have tentatively set a meeting for 5 p.m. Wednesday in Pico Rivera to discuss the Beverly bridge, alternate routes and how the cities will share the cost of replacing it, said Richard Torres, Montebello city administrator. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved $10 million to replace the bridge. The two cities will kick in the balance. While city officials figure out their next moves, business owners along Whittier Boulevard, who are already suffering from the construction there, worry that customers will simply avoid driving to the region. Vilma Pineda, 47, owner of Diana’s Boutique in Montebello, emotionally pleaded at a meeting this week with city staff, asking them to help the businesses like hers along Whittier Boulevard that have seen profits drop by 75 percent since construction began. “I just want to see a resolution by the city to help us,” Pineda said. “Now with the bridge closed, I am very fearful I won’t make it. Nobody’s going to come down here. I won’t be able to pay my bills.” Business owners and residents on the Pico Rivera side of the Beverly Boulevard bridge also have been affected. Instead of taking two minutes to drive across the Beverly bridge to Lupe’s Tacos in Pico Rivera, Montebello resident Eric Ochoa now must take a 20-minute detour. “This place has great tacos and I come at least once a month,” he said, ordering five tacos. “But it’s horrible to get here now, a big hassle.” Although loyal customers like Ochoa keep coming, the taco stand saw a significant drop in business this past week, said employee Alejandro Ochoa. “We used to get a lot of people from Beverly Hospital, but they don’t come anymore because they only get a half-hour for lunch,” he said. “When the rains come, it is going to get even worse. It’s terrible, just terrible for business.” Residents in the Villa Nova retirement community on Beverly, where smoke still lingered in the air days after the bridge burned, said they worry about accessing medical services in Montebello. “I heard it may be closed for a year and that will be hard,” said resident Gloria Oliva. “We are all up in our years and need to get to Beverly Hospital in Montebello.” Since the bridge’s closure, Beverly Hospital has seen a 20-percent drop in emergency room patients and elective procedures, said a hospital spokeswoman. No emergency patients, however, had been impacted due to re-routed ambulances as of Friday. Because of three prior fires and numerous repairs, the Beverly Boulevard bridge got poor marks in a recent report by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Out of approximately 2,000 bridges surveyed, the Beverly bridge placed second to last and earned a score of 17 out of a possible 100. Part of its woes are due to the way the bridge was built, officials said. Built in 1952, the bridge’s center was constructed of cement by the Army Corps of Engineers, but the entrances on either side were added later, said Ken Pellman, spokesman for the Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Works. Constructed of wood, the Pico Rivera entrance ramp burned and smoldered for days after it caught fire Tuesday. Officials have said they believe homeless people, using the space beneath the bridge as an encampment, might have started a fire that spread to the wooden pilings. The ends of the bridge “were only meant to be temporary,” Pellman said. “They left it to the cities of Pico Rivera and Montebello to build their approach ramps to join the middle part,” said Pellman. “They were only meant to be temporary. The bridge was originally serving a rural area, not the bustling center it is now.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029 [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!