MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Local businesses along Long Point Road in Mt. Pleasant say they're feeling the effects of the new gate system at the Wando Welch Terminal for the South Carolina Ports Authority.
"Yesterday the parking lot was totally empty," said manager of Carolina Girls Brenda Woodward.
The new system has created traffic issues along I-526 all week long.
Store owners say it's deterred customers from coming to shop.
"We have not seen the traffic come in to the Belle Halle shopping center, so we've had to resort to other things to let people know we are still here," said owner of Zinnia Terri Wischerath.
Wischerath said she's had to use social media all the week in order to get people through her doors.
Not only has the traffic problems at the Long Point Road exit affected the business, it's also affected her personally.
"It has stopped me from doing a lot of things out in the community," she said.
"One day it took a girl 45 minutes to get here," Woodward said. "She had to go all the way to 17, and then the traffic was terrible on 17."
Friday appeared to be a turning point.
Help from SCDOT, Mt. Pleasant Police and Highway Patrol had traffic rolling down the exit smoothly.
"[It was] markedly different, yes," Wischerath. "It's better. Personally I didn't have anything I had to deal with."
"We're seeing better operations at the Port," said Chief Engineer for Operations with SCDOT Andrew Leaphart. "We're seeing trucks move in a lot quicker."
"We're learning on the fly," said SCPA CEO/President Jim Newsome. "Things are getting better every day."
Newsome said Friday afternoon they are well on their way to fixing the new gate system problem at the Wando Welch terminal.
He did apologize to the local businesses for what happened this week.
Newsome added he is going to find a way to make it up to the trucking companies as well since they are having to deal with severe backlogs in their product for their customers.