AIKEN, S.C. – SC DOT revealed their plans to the public Thursday for the new, York Street bridges. The proposed bridges aim to keep locals happy with the older-looking all-wood deck and railings with a modern, steel beam structure. But not everyone is happy about these new bridge plans.
The Aiken boutique, Thru Time and Ages is fighting to stay open during a dark period. The store sits right next to the York Street Bridges which SC DOT closed on February 18th, much to the surprise of local businesses.
Thomas Misiag, the owner of Thru Time and Ages explains, “It had been worked on twice before in the previous months and we had notice beforehand, how long it would be taken care of. This time they just came in, nobody said anything and I had to call the city to find out what’s going on.”
A routine DOT check-up found the old wooden bridges to be very unstable and unsafe for traffic. SCDOT Program Manager Michelle Shepherd says, “The bridges are very structurally deficient. They have a sufficiency rating of 3 on a scale of 1 to 100.”
Since closure, Thru Times and Ages has struggled to stay alive. Misiag says, “With no traffic going over, there is nobody going where there used to be 200 cars per hour before. Since I’m a new business, I rely on drive-by traffic more than an existing customer base.” The Department of Transportation says they’ve heard the concerns of local business owners and are working to get the new bridge up as fast as they can. “(We’re) trying to make sure we get in there and get this done quickly and get a safe bridge back open to the people so it can be used,” replies Shepherd.
But Misiag says things are only going to get worse as the new plans call for construction crews to completely shut down access to his boutique. “Looks like I could be two to three months without any income. This is really bad, nobody’s willing to address that issue.”
The new bridges will also feature a new sidewalk along York Street which is planned to reduce parking and fencing for Thru Time and Ages. The current timeline has the new bridges up in December but Misiag is unsure his store can stand the test of time.