Business owners along Colleyville’s main drag, concerned about declining profits due to construction, banded together to protest the latest plans for Texas 26 in a letter.
“We simply do not see the wisdom in re-developing a four-lane state highway with no lane expansion, and a landscaped median simply added,” says the letter, signed by 15 businesses and submitted to the City Council. “Our businesses will be adversely impacted for years during this construction, and many of us may not recover or will be forced to re-locate to other cities.”
The $41 million plans call for adding landscaped medians along a 3-mile stretch of the road, also called Colleyville Boulevard, from John McCain Road south to Brown Trail. Already, the first phase of reconstruction project has caused problems for businesses on Texas 26 from John McCain north to Brumlow/Pool Road.
Tom and Ying Aikens say their restaurant, Next Wood Fired Bistro & Vino Bar, has seen a 30 percent drop in business during the first phase, which has been hampered by a series of delays.
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The second phase could begin sometime in 2015.
Arnie Block, who has operated the Eagle Transmission just south of Centerpark Drive since 1992, worries that a raised median in front of his business would deter potential customers because they could not turn left into his business.
Instead, customers northbound on 26 will have to drive to a stop light and make a U-turn to get to his store.
“You’ll see where it discourages people from coming in,” Block said.
The Texas Department of Transportation has said the project will not be built without raised medians. The agency says roads with daily traffic counts larger than 20,000 must have raised medians for safety concerns. According to agency studies, raised medians reduce crashes by 40 percent and reduce the number of head-on collisions.
“The State Highway 26 traffic count is over 20,000 and so the inclusion of medians is a necessary step in continuing to provide Colleyville motorists both safety and mobility in their travels,” department spokesman Val Lopez said.
Block said he is not satisfied with the safety answer.
“The accidents that happen are not in the turn lane; they’re just on the regular streets with people not paying attention and talking on their cellphone,” he said.
David Medlin, who has an Ameriprise Financial office on 26, said he’s spoken with other business owners who oppose the plan but could not sign on because of corporate ownership.
Medlin said he wants businesses and the city to have an open dialogue about the project.
“If you listen to the comments it’s all about telling people this, informing this, it’s top down,” Medlin said. “We want communication to go both ways, for us to feel like we’re involved in this thing.”
Mayor David Kelly said the project has had business input.
As the project moves forward the, Kelly said, city will work closely with businesses to help them through the construction, which will include providing alternate route maps to businesses.
“We understand the concerns of the business owners along Texas 26,” Kelly said. “We are going to have a program and work with them to lessen any impact of what the road construction would do to them.”
Kelly has said a wide raised median will help create a “Destination Colleyville” feel, but he contested the argument that this is a beautification project.
“It’s an aging roadway; it’s important for us to maintain our infrastructure and keep improving our community,” he said. “Like we are redoing our shopping centers, we’re redoing our roads too.”
The letter also calls for business owners to create a petition, which has not happened.
The letter was sent to the city Dec. 2, the same day City Council members told the city staff to move forward on funding the project through the Transportation Department’s Turnback Program. Under that program, the agency will pay for the project but once it is complete, Colleyville will be responsible for maintenance and future reconstruction costs, which could include expanding the road to six lanes from John McCain to Brown Trail.
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770