I have been an owner and manager of several oceanfront hotels in Myrtle Beach for more than 30 years. I wish to join with the many others who oppose the proposed elevated crosswalk atop Ocean Boulevard that is currently under consideration by both the Myrtle Beach City Council and the Planning Commission.
Some contend that the proposed walkover should be allowed because trucks occasionally park in the middle of Ocean Boulevard to make deliveries. These trucks temporarily block the view of pedestrians seeking to cross the Boulevard next to the trucks.
Ocean Boulevard is at least five miles long and the chances of the proposed walkover having any significant impact on pedestrian safety would be minimal. Pedestrians have to traverse only one lane of traffic in order to cross Ocean Boulevard to a pedestrian island, and then one more lane to cross from the island to the other side of the street. I am unaware of any pedestrian who was injured on Ocean Boulevard as a result of his view being blocked by a delivery truck.
If these delivery trucks present such a traffic hazard on the Boulevard, it would seem that a “no truck parking zone” could be established. Or if the City were to determine that delivery trucks present such a dangerous situation, they could ban all truck deliveries from Ocean Boulevard. Of course all of this isunnecessary as delivery trucks do not in and of themselves present a particularly dangerous situation.
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Others argue that the proposed walkover would provide a “public” means to cross Ocean Boulevard but that would clearly not be the case. Any member of the public seeking to use the walkover would have to first climb and then descend several flights of stairs to enter and exit the walkover, as opposed to simply walking directly across only two lanes of traffic, using a marked pedestrian crosswalk with a pedestrian island in the middle. This public usage argument becomes even more illogical if the walkover is constructed on the fifth floor of a building rather than the second or third as was recently discussed at the Planning and Zoning public meeting.
Claiming that the general public would use an elevated walkover rather than simply crossing one lane of the road to get to a median and then crossing one more lane in a 25 mph zone is absurd. My guests routinely cross the Boulevard by the tens of thousands every year from my oceanfront facility to a seven-story garage without any objection or undue risk of bodily harm.
Still others contend that allowing just this one walkover would not have a significantly adverse impact upon the esthetics of the Boulevard area. But allowing a walkover to be built more than 15 years after the only existing walkover was constructed, after so much time and effort have been spent to beautify and toprovide safe pedestrian passages across the Boulevard, would serve as an open invitation to many other property owners to add additional walkovers for their own properties.
Let’s be honest. The reason that any walkover would be proposed by a developer of a hotel property is to attempt to connect various parcels of property in a manner that is most convenient to that developer’s guests. This potentially becomes a competitive advantage between properties and therefore becomes an impetus for others to desire the same, thus increasing the likelihood that we will have many walkovers if the one currently under consideration is allowed.
I have been told that not only would these walkovers possibly signify us as a progressive resort destination, but that we should consider adding digital directional and other signage to the walkovers to further enhance the vacationers’ experience.
I personally cannot think of a more detrimental visual experience than this on our Boulevard. I like Times Square in NYC, and Las Vegas, but they are not beach resort destinations and certainly do not fit what I hope our future will be.
In conclusion, I am concerned that allowing additional walkovers would have a significantly adverse impact upon the present beauty of Ocean Boulevard and would diminish the impact of the tens of millions of dollars of the public’s money used to beautify the Boulevard without providing any discernable improvement to public safety.
I respectfully urge you, the citizens of Myrtle Beach, to contact your City Council members and other public officials to let them know of your opinions regarding the imposition of additional elevated walkovers atop Ocean Boulevard. Unless objections are raised by the public, I fear that political connections will result in the proposed walkover being allowed, to the City’s detriment.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.