SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Business 85 navigates drivers in the Spartanburg area to Asheville Highway, Interstate 26 and Interstate 585. It used to be a heavily traveled portion of the interstate, but nearly a year ago crews closed the loop to drivers to begin construction.
While construction is quickly approaching its halfway mark, some businesses in the area say they are feeling the heat from the detours.
“There are three bridges, three structures, and they have essentially outlived their service life,” said South Carolina Department of Transportation spokesman Pete Poore.
Poore told 7NEWS it’s time for the SCDOT to invest in newer structures.
“They’re being replaced to last another 50, 60 years and they’ll probably be up to modern standards,” said Poore.
As of right now, Business 85 over Buffington Road and the Norfolk Southern Railroad is currently in the final stages of construction of the bridge foundations. Crews are working on concrete caps to support bridge beams.
Partial demolition of Business 85 over Howard Street is scheduled to take place this month.
Crews are also working on the foundations over Lawsons Ford Creek.
While the project is on time, there’s still a way to go.
Owner Mike Hicks at Carolina Barbecue said the detour has been tough to navigate.
“In the past, we’ve gotten a lot of tourists. With the road being like it is, they can get off here but it’s kind of a struggle for them to get back on,” Hicks told 7NEWS. “We’re always having to give them directions to get back on to 85.”
Hicks added the construction has been worse on his business than the pandemic.
“We did see people coming in that were getting to go or Door Dash orders, and we were doing car hopping out in the parking lot,” he said. “Now with the road, it’s a big obstacle for people to get here.”
He said the restaurant relies on its regulars to keep up.
“We still get the real locals and the people that know how to get here or through the construction is fine, but it’s not easy,” Hicks explained.
Those detours also impact more than just restaurants.
“We do a lot of out-of-state sales and a lot of our customers have had a lot of issues getting to our location,” Yesenia Mondragon, Manager at Modern Automotive said. “We get a lot of questions, ‘is that road closed?’ ‘How do we get there?'”
She told 7NEWS the dealership saw a decline in foot traffic when the detours went in place.
Fortunately, they can rely on tools like the internet to balance lost sales, but Mondragon added she can’t wait to see the other side of it all.
“Especially with construction,” Mondragon said. “We’ll keep our cars clean and then the next couple of days the red dirt will get right back on them every time they get to working.”
Poore said construction is expected to be completed by June of next year— despite some bumps in the road.
“When the contractor started to put in the bridge pilings they found an unexpected sub-service structure problem, meaning the soil found presented itself a little differently than was expected,” said Poore.
He explained that caused some hiccups to the budget.
“Because of that issue, the project exceeds the allotted budget by about $350,000 to adjust design and materials,” said Poore.
But Poore noted that extra funding isn’t coming from your tax dollars.
“Every DOT construction contract has contingency funds, so this small delay was within the contingencies,” Poore told 7NEWS.
He added any funds left over will be available for the next contract or project.