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      Myrtle Beach mayor suggests partial summer vehicle closure to Ocean Boulevard

      A new proposal from Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes could close a section of Ocean Boulevard to vehicles this summer.

      Rhodes proposed the idea on Wednesday at the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation's meeting.

      City Manager Tom Leath says the idea stems from what is done in the French Quarter in New Orleans, where Bourbon Street and surrounding roads are open during the day for deliveries to restaurants and shops , but closed at night to allow pedestrians to easily walk around.

      City Spokesperson Mark Kruea said that area is busy enough that it could, in theory, work out well.

      "That's where people want to be. There's literally an activity every night of the week, and this would allow more people to enjoy that and not have a major road right separating them down the middle," Kruea said.

      The idea is to get people out of their cars and into stores and restaurants.

      "They can put kiosks in the middle of the street, festivals, all kinds of shopping," said Lawrence Cardella, who works on Ocean Boulevard.

      While none of the details are final, the proposal would close Ocean Boulevard from near 7th Avenue North to Mr. Joe White Avenue from about 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. during the summer months.

      Others say it could potentially hurt what the Boulevard already has in place.

      "There is a lot of foot traffic here in the summer, but you get a little people driving back and forth that see the shops and then want to stop," said Jeff Johnson, who works on Ocean Boulevard.

      The Downtown Redevelopment Corporation is looking into the logistics before sending a recommendation to City Council. Some of the issues they'll be working on are whether to close the Boulevard every night or just on weekends and when to start and end the closure.

      If the city decides to pursue this option, Leath says the measure would go before the Myrtle Beach Planning Commission then City Council for approval.