Why are the Williamson Street stairs blocked? - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Why are the Williamson Street stairs blocked?

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

If you've ever climbed any of the stone stairs up, or walked them down, to River Street, you know what kind of experience it can be.

Now, one of those historic gateways is closed off partially, and viewers are asking why.

The staircase in question is one of the steepest along River Street. They're so steep, some people have nicknamed the staircase the stone stairs of death. They even have a Facebook page dedicated to them.

However, right now half of them has a yellow bar blocking it off, and there are several signs warning private property.

Some think it may have to do with a video which made the rounds a few months ago, around the same time the signs popped up, and the stairs went off limits on one side.

"The stairwell was actually closed before anyone in the city was aware of that incident," said City of Savannah's City and Park Director Jerry Flemming.

Flemming said the video is actually from St. Patrick's Day 2013 but emerged after the 2014 festival.

Flemming said the city put up the signs and the bar to block off the stone stairs on Williamson Street before the 2014 St. Patrick's Day Festival because of a faulty wall due for repairs as part of a $6 million Factors Walk SPOLST project.

Part of that project is figuring out what is privately owned and what is owned by the city.

"In this particular case, we have a stairway that is owned by multiple parties," said Flemming. "Half is owned by one property owner, a quarter is owned by another property owner, and another half is owned by the city, which is connected to a hand rail connected to a wall, which is not very stable at this point."

For liability reasons, the city closed their portion off, and the signs warn pedestrians to use the private stairs at their own risk.

The stairs may not reopen for a few years since they aren't a high priority in the overall Factos Walk Project.

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