What happens when bridge runners meet travel cruisers?
A whole lot of traffic.
While runners and walkers from the Cooper River Bridge Run overburdened the streets of downtown Charleston Saturday, voyagers preparing to set sail on the Carnival Fantasy added to the congestion.
The Fantasy, a ship that typically carries about 2,000 passengers and 900 crew members, arrived for a turnaround call at 6 a.m. and started embarkment around 11 a.m. By late afternoon, traffic was clogged along many of the main downtown roadways.
But despite the influx of people, traffic seemed about the same as last year, according to Lt. Chip Searson, traffic division commander of the Charleston Police Department.
He's been in charge of directing the bridge run traffic for six years. He said the traffic flowed as organized as it could.
"All things considered, everything went pretty well," he said.
But for several businesses at the heart of the gridlock, they say the weekend's traffic has been hurting them.
"A lot of my customers stay away from downtown because of the traffic," said Ted Dombrowski, owner of Ted's Butcher Block in the Ansonborough Square on East Bay Street. "About 85 percent of my business is local. So if they're staying away, it's not helping me."
Traffic is typically bad enough, Dombrowski said, when a cruise line comes in, and for the most part, cruise passengers don't help his business.
Several other businesses along East Bay Street posted closed signs or decided to open later in the day.
Billy Leonard, owner of the Vegetable Bin at East Bay and Society streets, said he came in around 11 a.m. from Mount Pleasant.
He said that though he sees an increase in business from cruise passengers each week during the turnarounds, the traffic from the bridge run is just too much for them.
"As you see, people can't get in," Leonard said pointing to the gridlock just outside his store around noon.
Julien Semanchuk, who works at the Earthling Day Spa, said the exact opposite. She said though the typical traffic from the cruise lines are a mess each week and detract away some local clients, the bridge run always brings in more business.
"We're definitely busy," she said. "We have repeat customers who run the bridge every year and then get a massage every year."
Reach Almar Flotildes at 937-5719.