Some business owners in the Kittie’s Crossing shopping plaza in greater Bluffton say they are concerned about a new median that was built at the Bluffton Road entrance sometime last week.
The median, they say, was built without their knowledge, has created confusion among drivers and blocks full access to their businesses.
Tony Arcuri, owner of Giuseppi’s Pizza and Pasta, said he noticed Friday that the existing median outside his business had been removed and a new, longer median was now in its place.
The new median prevents some drivers from making a left into Arcuri’s section of the plaza, which includes AAA Carolinas, Palm Beach Tan, Panda Chinese Restaurant and La Hacienda.
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Since the change, business owners and employees say they have noticed drivers making dangerous maneuvers to bypass the median. An employee of La Hacienda even popped her tire on the curb while trying to drive around the median, according to the restaurant’s owner.
Arcuri posted video on Facebook on Monday of vehicles coming from the direction of Food Lion and Target and driving into oncoming traffic to enter Giuseppi’s, nearly causing head-on collisions. Other drivers can be seen making a right out of the Giuseppi’s parking lot and then trying to execute a tight U-turn around the median, which backs up traffic.
Some have even attempted to drive over the median. At least one car has become stuck doing so, according to an employee of La Hacienda.
“I was only out there for 15 minutes (taking video),” Arcuri said. “It’s ridiculous.”
The longer median is not the only change to this area of Bluffton Road. A Walmart Supercenter and Sam’s Club are being built across from this entrance into Kittie’s Crossing, where a traffic light is expected to be installed. It’s not clear whether the median was built in anticipation of the light. Attempts to reach Walmart representatives were unsuccessful Tuesday.
Stafford Properties owns the outparcel where Giuseppi’s and the other businesses are located. Arcuri said he spoke with the property owners shortly after he noticed the median.
Two attempts to reach representatives of Stafford Properties were unsuccessful Tuesday.
Aside from the risk of collision, business owners said they are also concerned that the median could be bad for business, though it’s too early to tell what the effect on their businesses will be.
Morgan Olivares, one of the owners of La Hacienda, said he’s noticed that the average number of customers in his restaurant decreased over the weekend.
“Two customers told me they were going to be here less because of the inconvenience of the parking lot,” he said. “Because on weekends, it gets very hectic here, you know. And it’s like everybody now has to take the back way out.”
Arcuri said it is hard to say if business has suffered at Giuseppi’s because of the median.
“We’ve seen sales were down over the weekend,” he said.
Both Olivares and Arcuri said they were hopeful that the median issue would be resolved quickly.
“I think it’s going to work out,” Arcuri said.