In America’s Oldest City, there’s a dispute under way about the price of progress and how a state road construction project would impact the companies that would suddenly be challenged.
Foot traffic is heavy when art walk takes place along King Street in St. Augustine. Car traffic seems constant between Flagler College and U-S 1., and business owners believe a scheduled construction project would ruin what they have going.
The project will replace pipes from Malaga Street to Markland Place. It is expected to begin this month and end in March of next year.
Eastbound traffic would be detoured for most of the project.
"When I see construction in a city, I go, 'Uh-oh!' and I go around it. I'm assuming other people might do the same thing," said Butterfield Garage Art Gallery's Jan Miller.
"Thousand cars a day pass through this street, and if we try to divert these cars down another street, it’s going to clog the city . Then it becomes a city problem, not a King Street problem," said former County Commissioner Bruce Maguire.
On King Street, the construction is a big concern. At least one city commissioner said he realizes that, if done wrong, the construction would snuff out businesses in the area.
"They’re correct. They received inadequate notice of this. It's two weeks from the beginning of the project. That’s not right," said City Commissioner Bill Leary.
Leary pointed out another reason to delay the project: the commemorations of the Ancient City, as it approaches it’s 450th birthday.
"This project is going to go into 2013. The prospect of having all these people come here and tie up the roads, it’s just ludicrous they would do it at this time," said Miller.
"To upgrade the street, lower the power lines underneath the street. Do a streetscape, landscape, do it all at one time and get it over at one time, so we don’t have to worry about this again," said Maguire.