U.S. 231 brings traffic, sales

Published 11:01 pm Friday, May 4, 2012

U.S. 231 through Troy may be the gateway to the beach, but it’s also the key to many businesses’ success during holiday travel seasons.

“Tourist traffic is a part of the local economy,” said Marsha Gaylard, director of the Pike County Economic Development Council. “Highway 231 is just one more advantage that we have.”

Through the years, fast food restaurants, convenience stores and other quick-stop businesses in Troy have found success along the major highway that thousands of travelers use as part of their beach pilgrimage during the spring and summer months.

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A traffic map provided by the EDC plotting the number of cars that drive down Highway 231 shows that 26,900 vehicles travel between Montgomery and South Three Notch Street daily in Troy. That number bumps to 33,800 between Three Notch and South Brundidge Street and decreases slightly to 33,100 after South Brundidge Street.

“A lot of traffic veers off at Brundidge because that marks another direct route to the beach,” Gaylard said.

The numbers above were recorded in 2009, but estimated counts for 2032 bump the amounts to 34,600, 50,300 and 47,600 respectively.

Michael Benca, general manager of Santa Fe Cattle Company, said that even though he’s seen a lot of traffic from recent seasonal activities in Troy, the majority of new faces in the restaurant are Florida bound.

Benca and his staff are hosting customers from Iowa, Illinois, Canada, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi as of late.

“Most of the out-of-state traffic we see during the year are Snowbirds and Spring Breakers and other people funneling down to Florida,” Benca said.

Even after lunch and dinner periods have passed, Benca said he and his staff notice cars “30 deep” waiting at the traffic light on U.S. Highway 231.

“We are ahead by a good percent versus our sales from last year,” Benca said. “We are doing quite well.”

Crowe’s Chicken on U.S. 231 also reports sales have increased in the past week.

Jackie Jones at Crowe’s said employees see the same pattern each year.

“We’re serving more people with them traveling on their way to the beach now,” Jones said.

And continued and increasing traffic means a better chance at survival for new businesses during uncertain economic times.

Milky Moo’s on the outskirts of Troy along U.S. 231 has been open almost a year and has developed regular customers, but new faces are a sign of what workers hope is a successful summer ahead.

“It has been extremely busy here over the last few days,” said Karen Senn as she helped customers at Milky Moo’s on Friday. “We have some regulars and some people passing through. It was slower during winter, so this is good.”

Gaylard said, in addition to the development of business along U.S. 231, she also believes another beach route that springs from Troy will also see growth.

“I think we are going to see, and we have already seen, new development along 167,” Gaylard said. “Eventually that could be built up more commercially just like 231.”