MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — One Myrtle Beach business manager said he sees a decrease in business when the controversial traffic loop is used on Memorial Day weekend.
Robert Alston, manager of Peaches Corner, has been working on Ocean Boulevard for 25 years. He said there is a decrease in business on years where the traffic loop has been in place.
“With the loop it’s real congested because everybody’s going one way,” Alston said.
The one-way 23 mile loop was put in place in 2015 but had not been used in recent years.
Critics said the traffic loop was only implemented for Black Bike Week but not Harley Week later in the year. A 2020 jury found the loop was racially motivated but said the city would have taken the same actions if race was not considered. The city settled with the NAACP for $50,000 as a settlement over the traffic plan.
Alston said even though traffic on Ocean Boulevard will still be going one-way for emergency vehicles, there will be more foot traffic and more people riding back-and-forth down Ocean Boulevard, which is better for business.
Alston said with the traffic loop, people would not stop in as much.
“A lot of people would just say it’s too crowded to get out and do any walking and some people just didn’t wanna do nothing but just ride and say they got caught in traffic too long,“ he said.
The whole loop that routed traffic out to Highway 31 will not be used, according to Master Cpl. Tom Vest with the Myrtle Beach Police Department.
Vest said the extended loop was not needed this year.
“The whole purpose behind the extended traffic plan was to clear out very heavy congestion and when we didn’t have the heavy congestion we opted not to use it,” Vest said. “We’ve said that since the beginning and we continued that through, but we haven’t seen that level of congestion that required the extended plan to be used.”
The police department is working to put out informational videos about specific intersections that will be open and the easiest ways to get around.
Vest said the current plan is all about being safe.
“The entire plan is about safety,” he said. “The traffic pattern was part of the safety plan. Its balanced to make sure that everybody has a good time enjoys themselves but stays safe doing it and we need to be able to get emergency vehicles to calls for service — fire police and EMS– and that’s what the emergency plan is for.”
Vest said they are also working with Google and other systems to make sure GPS information is up to date so visitors and locals can get around easily.