Downtown business owners upset with lack of communication with road closing.
Over the weekend, crews with the city blocked off the entire intersection of Broad and 13th Street for valve replacement and flow issues.
The large thoroughfare handles a significant amount of traffic, being the main artery between Augusta and North Augusta.
There are a significant number of retail stores and restaurants located within two blocks of the intersection, and many of the business owners are crying foul. The repair, while an important one, was scheduled at this time because the money was in the budget, with the end of the year on the horizon.
“Our traffic is absolutely down. Store sales are down significantly. Non existent. Nothing but empty spaces all over the place,” said Greig McCully of Fireside Kitchen and Grills. “Prior to this we were on track to have the best Christmas we’ve ever had. It’s definitely put a huge bite into our Christmas retail.”
Dale Adams, owner of Real-Life Barbering located at 1297 Broad Street, was stunned to see the road closed right next to his business. “This is like the worst time to ever do this, right at Christmas,” said Adams. The barbershop caters to men and women, and he says his customers were being blocked from driving down to his storefront until he walked down and talked to the workers blocking access.
“Since we went down there and talked to them this morning they have been letting our clients in…you have to let them in here,” Adams stated.
McCully, who’s store is located at 1246 Broad Street, found out about the intersection closing over the weekend from a chain email of downtown business owners. “We only had one customer walk in our store before noon Monday morning. This time of the year is vital to us,” McCully said. “Here brick and mortar retailers are doing all we can to combat Amazon, and they come in and do something like this right before Christmas. Amazing.”
According to the business owners we talked to, it was the lack of communication from the city that upset them most. While they agree the fix is an important one and needs to be done, they question the timing of the repair-which was scheduled due to money being available in the budget to use before year end.
The traffic is even more confusing with the addition of new one way streets between 13th and 9th. Consult google maps if you are unfamiliar with the layout to assist in getting to your favorite stores.
“We had a customer at our cooking class Tuesday night who summed it up nicely. He said ‘the city isn’t concerned about the businesses that are already down here. Just those coming,'” McCully said.
McCully said he contacted the mayor’s office and was assured someone would contact him back Monday with more information about the closing. Wednesday afternoon he said he is still waiting.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the word is the road will be reopened this weekend.