West Broad Street was once a commerce hub in Savannah, but Diaspora Marketplace CEO Richard Shinhoster tells News 3 what exists now on MLK blvd is a far stretch from what used to be.

“Once I-16 was built of course it disrupted the community that existed here,” said Shinhoster.

He and his brother Earl came up with the idea for Diaspora together, but Earl was killed in a car accident in 2000, and never got to see the shop open.

Now, his memory is preserved on the overpass just feet away from the store’s front door, but Richard says even Earl would have wanted to see the bridge removed.

Metropolitan Planning Commission Executive Director Tom Thomson says a $70-million project is well on its way to making that a reality.

“This has been talked about probably at least 15 or 20 years,” said Thomson. “It’s taken us a while to get here but we’re at the point now to clear a hurdle that we have to clear with Federal Highway [Administration] in order to go to the next step.”

That next step would be environmental checks and finalizing the design, which could be one of two options:

  • Option one would remove the flyovers but would include a new, low-capacity on/off-ramp leading to Cohen street, just south of the Garrison School.
  • Option two would also remove the flyovers and would not include the new on/off-ramp.

Both options would keep access at Louisville road and Gwinnett street and add access at Oglethorpe avenue near the entrance to Highway 17; they’d also create room for a park in Earl’s name.

To see the proposed projects, click here.