Nobody who has driven down L Street would argue that the popular thoroughfare that connects Brunswick and St. Simons Island needs a lot of work. The road has serious flooding issues when it rains and has some of the worst potholes in the city — the massive dip right beside Historic Edo Miller Park being the most treacherous and hard to spot if you don’t know the road.
That is why the city has engaged in what it estimates will be a year-long project to fix the issues on L Street. To work on the improvements, L Street has been closed to traffic. For the first phase, the street is closed from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Goodyear Avenue.
That has created a problem for businesses along L Street like Rakesh Patel’s L Street Liquors. The owner told The News that business has dropped off considerably since the barricades went up on April 5.
Patel estimates his business is losing about $2,000 a day in lost sales because a lot of his customers are people traveling to and from St. Simons Island.
“From the minute I open I’m busy until I close,” Patel said. “You usually see this whole parking lot filled. A lot of people from the island stop here because of the prices.”
The construction on L Street has put a halt to that. It’s also caused other headaches for Patel. Traffic has been rerouted to the point that getting to his store is a challenge. He hasn’t even been able to get deliveries at the store. Patel has to have deliveries dropped off at other stores where he picks them up later.
It’s not the first time businesses have been affected by improvement projects. Actually, the situation arose twice last week.
Pier Village businesses on St. Simons Island have had to deal with a drainage improvement project since January.
On Wednesday, the businesses got bad news when it was revealed that an uncovered water line not on the plans used by the engineers would have to be lowered to continue the project.
That lowering would lead to a boil water advisory that would affect three restaurants — Barbara Jean’s, The Half-Shell and Brogan’s South — meaning essentially that the businesses would not be able to open for a few days until the advisory was lifted.
Like the L Street project, the drainage project in the Pier Village is necessary because the infrastructure in the area has been neglected for too long. That still doesn’t make it any easier for businesses that have to close their doors.
The discussion about finding a way to keep the businesses open did not end Wednesday. County commissioners, county staff, the Joint Water and Sewer Commission and project leaders worked to find a way to get what needs to be done without having to resort to posting a boil water advisory. The bypass will hopefully work, but even if it doesn’t, at least a serious effort was made to prevent the businesses from having to close.
We’d like to think the same thing can happen on L Street. City Engineer Garrow Alberson told The News he had a discussion with Patel on Thursday to try to find ways to make it easier to get to his store.
“We’re trying to help him out and get delivery trucks and customers there,” Alberson said.
We appreciate the city trying to help out a business in need. We hope that with the help of city staff and city leaders, a solution can be found to help mitigate the damage being done to Patel’s business.
L Street fixes are needed, but it should not come at the expense of businesses.