SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Dean Forest Road bridge closed for construction Wednesday and isn’t scheduled to reopen until Sunday night at 7 p.m.
This is putting an extra strain on drivers, as well as business owners in the area.
Ronnie’s restaurant is already dealing with the burden of losing customers to the detour.
“It’s going to be a long week, I think,” said Shawn Apfel, co-owner of the restaurant. “I was doing better sales during the COVID lockdown when everything was shut down and people couldn’t even dine in in my establishment.”
Shawn has been a co-owner for years now and tells WSAV the road closure has dried up traffic that could be bringing him business.
“Been here basically every day for the last few years. There’s probably not even a tenth of the cars that normally head towards the 16 ramp,” he said.
That makes for a lot of empty seats for the restaurant that’s been standing for over 40 years now.
“Today I’m probably sitting about 20 orders served since we got here at 6 a.m.,” Apfel said.
Behind Ronnie’s are several gas stations. News 3 spoke to a cashier who said she was late to work because of the detour — she spent an hour trying to get to the job.
A truck driver who uses Dean Forest said “it sucks” and the detour is a headache for anyone going to work in the morning.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) admits it’s inconvenient but says the closure is necessary to complete a diverging diamond interchange.
Once it’s finished, GDOT says the interchange will make traffic safer and decrease congestion.
Again, the closure is scheduled to reopen at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
The diverging diamond interchange should be completed in early 2024.