French Quarter blocked off by 5K race

Cars sit in traffic Thursday afternoon after police blocked off streets in downtown Charleston for the i5K race.

Dozens of people in the neighborhood between Vendue Range and The Battery found themselves stranded this evening as the city shut down all routes in and out of the French Quarter without warning to allow runners to participate in a 5K race.

Frustrated motorists’ found themselves trapped with no way out. About 6:15 p.m., a police officer shrugged when asked about the problem and told motorists they would likely be stuck for another half-hour.

As runners in the race, dubbed the i5k and sponsored by the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation, ran by hooting and hollering, frustrated residents and tourists steamed over the inconvenience.

“This is an absolute disaster,” said Dora Bell, who works in the area. She said she was going to miss her daughter’s first string concert because of the unannounced closure. “Whoever planned this thing didn’t give any consideration for the people who work down here,” she said.

Charles Bumgardner, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was stranded with family members who were in town for a wedding. He had a woman who was 8 months pregnant and concerned. “Given the amount of tourism in this city, it seemed asinine to have something like this and have it be unannounced.”

Local attorney Daniel Boles said closing the area off in this manner created a public safety hazard for people in the area and disrupted the plans of countless people.

As he talked, a woman walked back to her car, crying because police wouldn’t let her through.

Boles said, “I can’t believe City Council would let them do something like this.”

Shortly before 7 p.m., the area was reopened to traffic after having been sealed off for close to 50 minutes.