Davenport businesses welcome back traffic on River Drive

Local News

For the first time in 98 days, all 10 miles of Davenport's River Drive is open.

River Drive’s lifeline for businesses in Downtown Davenport is flowing again Friday.

That’s after being cut off for three months, which has seen part or all of the road shut down.

All of the almost 10-mile stretch is now open to traffic again after 98 days.

That’s after the last remaining closed section was able to reopen.

That’s a relief for restaurants and stores that depend on the street to provide easy access for customers.

Business owners at the Freight House and city leaders celebrated the removal of the last road closed signs.

The main message of businesses Friday is come on back.

Local 4 News spoke with businesses all along River Drive from the Village of East Davenport, into the Downtown and into the west end.

They stressed the importance of this critical artery of traffic and the hope it will provide going forward.

It’s after not only a wet spring but cold winter that has made the past six months downright dreadful.

Saying goodbye, good riddance, so long, farewell to the flood of 2019.

The last reminders: road closed signs and lingering sandbags coming down and going away like the floodwaters. It’s as time is past due for a return to normal.

The Diner owner Tara Elkins said, “We’re here, we’re ready, we’re back.”

At The Diner, owner Tara Elkins said the total days closed add up to a month and a half.

Elkins said, “That’s not including having to close early, opening later.”

Through this difficult time, she and other businesses said the support comes from the familiar faces.

Elkins said, “A lot of regulars that we now call our diner family. They have definitely helped us get through. Sorry, now I’m going to cry.”

To help brighten up, all of Davenport’s River Drive finally reopening is a good first step.

Just Because owner Bev Thumann said, “It means that maybe we can start breathing easier again.”

Staff at The Diner say just the lead up with roads opening has helped but this will hopefully take it into another gear.

“I have seen an increase in volume this week since we’ve been reopened and just from having some of the other roads opening back up, so I know River Drive is going to help everyone downtown, ” said Elkins.

The flood businesses now want to see is of traffic.

Thumann said, “Hopefully the people will come back and support all of their favorites and all of the people that mean so much to them.”

The gift shop Just Because is only one of the businesses in the Village of East Davenport feeling the impact of customers bypassing this area.

Thumann said, “Just trying to get to this part of town had been very difficult for so many people for so many reasons.”

Even though River Drive traffic has been flowing by the Village since last week, it’s not the regular volume.

Calla Owner Kim Wessel said, “We’ve definitely an increase in traffic but not like normal. I traveled down there this morning coming to work and I could tell traffic is still light.”

With the dawning of summer, the hope is it will be a vacation from the conditions putting a strain on sales.

Wessel said, “We need it to get warm and dry.”

In addition to road traffic, pedestrians are also a key part of their businesses and if the weather is not nice, then that aspect is lost.

The Diner, which is located at the Freight House told Local 4 News they’re hoping to make up some of their business with a special event the night of Red, White, Boom.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.