Construction Creates Problems for Businesses, Residents - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/17/04

Construction Creates Problems for Businesses, Residents

Signs read "road closed," "businesses open," and "no through traffic." Signs read "road closed," "businesses open," and "no through traffic."

There are some major concerns about construction on Waters Avenue. If you drive anywhere around the mid-40s to mid-50s along Waters, you know the trouble. The city's working on a huge drainage project.

Some neighbors and business owners say the solution may be worse than the problem. They say the problem is signs. They're supposed to help inform motorists, but so far, they're only creating more problems than they've solving.

"I've done $35 dollars of business on a day where I normally do $600," said Bill Pendergrass, owner of a dry cleaning business in the area.

He says construction and unclear signs--reading "road closed," "businesses open," and "no through traffic"--are confusing motorists. "They've put up signs, making customers think if they come to the dry cleaning store, they're risking getting a ticket."

And the problems don't end there. Business aren't the only ones affected by the construction. Through traffic is spilling into nearby neighborhoods as well. "They were using Harmon Street as a thoroughfare," said Grady Fostor who lives in the area.

More and faster traffic is making it dangerous for walkers and joggers. "Somebody is going to get killed, it's just a matter of time," said resident Diane Thibodaux. "It's not if, it's when."

Both the people who live there and business owners have called the city to complain. City officials say they're doing the best they can.

"It's a difficult situation because we're trying to balance the interests of both resident and businesses along Waters," said city liaison Susan Broker. "We changed some signage, we've closed portions of Harmon Street. Primary is safety."

But with the construction just beginning, many wonder how they're going to live with it for the next three months. "Should I even show up for work tomorrow?" asked Pendergrass. "How can I pay my bills?"

The city is working with businesses and residents. Along with the signs, they've added extra police presence to help direct traffic and ticket those who run through the barricades.

Still, it's going to be a long winter. Construction isn't supposed to be completed until next February.

Reported by: Melanie Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com

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