MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The barricades along Ocean Boulevard are still up due to the major events happening in downtown Myrtle Beach.
It's the same plan police utilized last year, according to Myrtle Beach Police Capt. Joey Crosby. He said when there are major events like Memorial Day weekend, which take several weeks of execution and planning for the traffic loop, the best plan is to keep the barricades up.
Following that is this weekend's Sun Fun Festival and parade, and then the Carolina Country Music Festival next weekend.
Logistically, it makes the most sense, Crosby said. The city public works department is not going to take down the barricades and then put them back up again for each event.
Myrtle Beach City Manager, John Pederson said the barricades are still up due to the Sun Fun parade this weekend. He added that before CCMF, all of the barricades will come down except for the ones along Ocean Boulevard from Ninth Avenue North to the first crosswalk north of Ninth Avenue
The barricades there will remain up through CCMF. Pederson said the reason for that is to separate the mass of people entering and leaving the festival site gate at Ninth Avenue and Ocean Boulevard from the emergency vehicles and delivery trucks that will be using that stretch of the road.
After CCMF, all barricades will come down and the traffic diversion will go back to normal once the stage is down," Pederson said.
Chris Walker, president of the Oceanfront Merchants Association and business owner along Ocean Boulevard for nearly 25 years, just opened up his third business, Hi-Fi Coffee Bar.
"I have an intimate relationship with that pavement right there, for good or for bad. It's like a second home for me," said Walker.
He said he would not second guess the police department's decision to leave the barricades up for several more days, but noted it can be a hardship.
"It's just, you know you have to weigh safety of pedestrians and bicyclists and business owners and delivery people with the overall what you gain with it versus what you sacrifice." Walker said. "You know it's one thing to fight for your own stuff, but when you have outside forces jumping in that cause our business to turn south, it's frustrating as a business owner."
Pederson said the barricade plan was communicated well in advance by the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation and the MBPD. Back in March the city agreed not to put up the barricades during the season, and the merchants agreed to help with some improvement along Ocean Boulevard.
"It makes it hard for us when they throw up an obstacle like this for us to overcome," said William Hovis, an employee at Oceanfront Airbrush. "I didn't think they would still be up and ultimately it does hurt us a little in the end. Unless someone is specifically looking for our shop, a lot of people don't want to cross the street."
The city made sure this information was communicated eyeball-to-eyeball to merchants from MBPD officers, Pederson said. The department also held two meetings with the business community to discuss plans for the barricade timeline, but the meetings were very poorly attended, the city manager added.
Benita Lundy, who is visiting Myrtle Beach with her Girl Scout troop, was surprised to see the barricades, but isn't upset about them.
"It's a good idea because it keeps the pedestrians out of the street and out of the way," Lundy said. "It's not so crowded now with the barricades in the way and we normally walk in double file, but now we walk in single file and keep a leader in the front and the back."