Business owner says Chatham Co. Courthouse construction is impacting traffic, parking for customers – WTOC

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) – The Chatham County Courthouse in downtown Savannah has been under construction for months, closing some streets and tightening others.

Now, one business owner in that area says the project is negatively impacting his bottom line.

“It’s the ever-expanding footprint of the courthouse project,” said Michael Higgins, co-owner of Wright Square Bistro.

It’s a federal construction project on his business’ doorstep.

“We very seldom now get locals, locals who are just looking to have lunch.”

The co-owner of this restaurant understands the construction needed to happen and isn’t upset at the fact that it is, but instead how the project itself is being managed. He says specifically, the workers on the building dominate area parking, leaving no options for his customers.

“They park in a space because they get here at seven in the morning so they can beat everybody into a space and it sits there all day and it’s one less space for our patrons to park.”

He wanted to do something about that problem, so he said he went to the City of Savannah.

“My communications with the city started in early October. We finally had a meeting in December two months later. It took that long to get a meeting.”

WTOC reached out to the city for comment regarding this whole situation just before their offices closed today.

In part, their written statement to WTOC reads:

When issues arose, the Transportation Department advocated for this business owner to ensure that the contractor complied with plan regulations. The contractor has been complying since then.

Since then, meaning since that December meeting. The business owner sees it differently.

“But since then nothing has changed, in fact it’s probably gotten worse.”

Higgins said he’s confused, saying the two-hour meeting with the city seemed to have gone well but in his mind, has led to no results. It’s a trend he’s worried might continue.

“About a year ago, we were approached by the contractor who’s doing the project at the courthouse. They explained that it was going to be one to two years, but in the meeting we had in December, it came out that they’re now looking for three and four years. That is unconscionable.”

As for what he wants to see done about all this…

“Just get some normalcy back. I understand that they need space. I understand that there are going to be times for closures. We want to work with them on it, but also they need to communicate with us.”

To be clear, that’s what Higgins is looking for out of the City of Savannah, who went on to say in their statement that they’ll continue to communicate with the business owner.

The City of Savannah reinforced that this is a private construction company contracted to work on a federal project and added that impacts on traffic should be expected.