Tom Aikens is worried how customers will get to his NEXT Wood Fired Bistro when the reconstruction of Colleyville Boulevard moves to his doorstep.
Aikens and his wife said they have already seen business drop about 30 percent as the construction has progressed north of their restaurant on Colleyville Boulevard near the Glade Road intersection.
The first phase of the project, on the north end of the roadway that is also known as Texas 26, started in July 2012 but has been hampered by a series of delays.
“When we first opened up we had a tremendous amount of business that came from Southlake, Grapevine and even Trophy Club, that has frittered away as a result of the road work,” Tom Aikens said. “Good friends say, ‘Hey, it’s too much trouble, it’s really difficult to get there.’ ”
Randy Johnson owns Bear Creek Spirits and Wine, at the intersection of John McCain Road and 26, and said his business took a 20 percent hit when the construction cut off potential customers from his main entrance.
“You never do truly plan for how construction is going to affect you as a business owner,” he said. “If it was any other business other than a liquor store this business at this location probably would not have survived.”
Aikens and Johnson joined about 100 others at a public forum on the Texas Department of Transportation project last week at First Baptist Colleyville. Many voiced concerns about how the work is affecting their businesses and questioned the need for expanded medians, a key component of the $41 million project.
‘A beautification project’
The Transportation Department’s efforts to revitalize the city’s main thoroughfare have not gone smoothly. The stretch of work from John McCain to Brumlow/Pool Road, which includes expanding the road from four to six lanes, was scheduled to be finished by the year’s end, but that has now been pushed back to May 2015.
Officials say delays have been caused by utility relocation, design errors and bad weather. At one point bridge work had to be stopped because of swallows nesting in a bridge that were protected by federal migratory bird regulations.
“The first thing I’d like to do is apologize on how the existing reconstruction project has gone,” the Transportation Department’s Fort Worth district engineer Brian Barth told the City Council in October.
Barth said the department will do a better job of keeping the public updated for the rest of the corridor’s reconstruction and that incentives have been put in place for contractors. The department plans to have monthly meetings with the city and has hired a third-party mobility coordinator to facilitate communication between stakeholders and project leaders.
The next segment of the project will add medians and improve intersections from Hall-Johnson Road to Brown Trail, a 11/2-mile stretch lined with shopping centers, restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses. Barth said the state plans to award the project to a contractor this winter and the earliest construction can begin is usually 30 days. He expects the second phase to take 21/2 years to complete.
Aikens said he’s upset that businesses like his will have to deal with years of construction for what he believes “is basically a beautification project.”
“A lot of people are going to go out of business or have a tremendous downward impact on their business as a result of this,” Aikens said.
Marty Wieder, Colleyville’s economic development director, said that he had not heard of any businesses closing during the first phase of construction and that some new retailers have opened, including Whole Foods Market and Goody Goody liquor store in the Colleyville Downs shopping center.
The city plans to produce maps that will show alternate routes to businesses during the next phase of construction.
Safety concerns raised
While the segment north of John McCain Road was expanded to six lanes, the rest of 26 will not be expanded to include more lanes, but Transportation Department officials said it can be widened in the future if traffic counts dictate the need. The North Central Texas Council of Governments has said it expects traffic to warrant an expansion after 2035.
By not widening the rest of 26 now, the Transportation Department can stretch funding to improve more intersections, which is where most of the congestion occurs. Barth said the department will not complete a project without medians because they improve safety.
Mayor David Kelly has said having landscaped medians will help create an identity for Colleyville.
Chandi Rudel owns a business and several properties near the Brown Trail intersection and is worried that a median would require some potential customers to make a U-turn just to access her tenants’ businesses.
“I’m very scared I’m not going to have a way into my property,” she said.
While business owners are concerned about their livelihood, residents talked about safety.
Residents from Villas at Oak Pointe like Lana Caylor spoke about the need for a traffic light at the Oak Pointe intersection, which many called unsafe.
“At least give us a light before someone gets killed,” Caylor said. “We’re talking about lives here.”