Memo outlines Bay St. traffic study concerns

Memo outlines Bay St. traffic study concerns

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - New details are already unfolding about the City of Savannah's traffic study that was implemented along Bay Street.

It's only been a week, but the city manager sent a memo outlining what's working and what's not. WTOC obtained a copy of that memo that was sent out to all city officials. It is three pages long with an update on from police, city ambassadors, traffic engineering and parking services.

So far police have been tracking the average speed. According to city officials, speeding is not as much of a problem as many folks initially thought. I'm told the average speed is 17 miles per hour in the morning and 20 miles per hour in the afternoon.

The memo also documents that folks are not taking advantage of the free parking on Liberty Street and the shuttle.

But one of the biggest concerns right now is more pedestrians in the street.

"People are taking advantage of the barrels that would represent a median to cross anywhere. We are afraid that's going to create a dangerous situation if they continue to do that, so we are going to ask them not to do that," said District 4 Alderman Julian Miller.

Some Savannah businesses are speaking out, saying they've taken a major hit after the City of Savannah implemented a parking study along Bay Street more than a week ago.

I spoke to one employee who says in just one week, business has been down almost 75 percent.

"I was pretty open to it at the beginning," said Kelly Borders, with Butcher Tattoo.

Borders initially shared the same feelings that many folks have about the City of Savannah's decision to temporarily restrict parking along Bay Street as part of a study.

"I think it's a good idea," said Ben Goggins.

A study designed to improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow has now traded one problem for another.

"You know where the sidewalks would be busy and people would be coming into to check out the gallery, now they are parking in other places. Unless you are coming to eat there's no real reason for you to come down to Bay Street," said Borders.

The impact to local businesses was not included in a memo the city manager sent out to all city officials. The three-page document points out the only issues they are seeing so far: pedestrians who are j-walking and standing in the median. They city also says no one is taking advantage of the free parking lot on Liberty Street.

"Because what we noticed before was people would park there all day long. People who parked downtown and we gave them a free place to park, they aren't taking advantage of it but they are complaining about it," said Alderman Miller.

But for Bay Street employees like Borders, it wasn't so much about the money as it was about safety.

"We close late at night and I don't want to walk to Liberty at night by myself. I would like to be able to park where I work. The same for my clients... I don't want my clients to have to find parking late at night and potentially be put in a dangerous situation," Borders said.

While nothing is set in stone, she says it's going to be a long three weeks for business after seeing a 75 percent drop in customers. But she is willing to compromise.

"If we even just opened up parking on one side that would be a lot better. I don't see where a median is going to do much of anything. It's not going to slow things down," said Borders.

This study goes until October 9. Starting this Sunday, they will start eliminating truck traffic.

You can read the entire memo sent by Savannah City Manager Stephanie Cutter below: 

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