Proposed ordinance bans truck traffic in much of downtown Savannah

(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Some Savannah business owners are not fans of a proposed ordinance banning delivery truck traffic through much of the downtown area.

The ordinance would prohibit trucks 34 feet or longer or any with three axles from making deliveries essentially anywhere in Historic Downtown. City leaders said it's necessary to preserve that area.

Almost daily, you'll find trucks making deliveries to the dozens of businesses on Broughton Street and surrounding squares. That includes 24E. The store's owner said the proposed ordinance makes no sense.

"What makes them think that this is going to be good for Savannah," Ruel Joyner said.

If passed, traffic would be banned between River Street and Gaston Street from MLK Jr. Boulevard to Broad Street.

The minor exceptions will be on parts of MLK and Montgomery Streets, Bay Street, and a couple blocks of Liberty Street and Oglethorpe Avenue.

"How do they figure that this is going to help our city thrive and survive. This is the type of knee-jerk reaction that we don't need," Joyner said.

As it's written, there would be exceptions for certain purposes. Movie crews, moving crews, and construction companies can apply for temporary permits. There would also be exceptions for local emergencies.

"The real issue is to try to restrict some of the larger vehicle traffic in the non-transit parts of town," said 3rd District Alderman Bill Durrence.

Durrence said a lot of work will be done before this passes. He added keeping these trucks out of squares is necessary.

"They do damage to the infrastructure, jumping the curbs, sidewalks, or even the grass in some of the squares as well as damaging some of the tree canopies when they bang into low limbs," Durrence said.

Joyner said the ordinance will do nothing to fill empty storefronts on Broughton. He also worries about the impact it will have on his business and others that rely on deliveries in big trucks.

"I'd like to know who's pushing it. I'd like to know: is this a council member? If it is city staff, I'd like to know what staff member it is that came up with it and what is their data," Joyner said.

We did reach out for clarification on how the city will address delivery needs of businesses. We have not heard back.

The penalty for breaking this ordinance is a $500 fine. The first reading will be at the Jan. 18 council meeting. The ordinance would be voted on after a second reading sometime after that.

Copyright 2018 WTOC. All rights reserved.