BOISE -- The Ada County Highway District says Fairview Avenue needs change. They say there are too many accidents, and it's time they do something to fix it.
However, the nearby business community is worried that ACHD's idea to fix traffic issues with medians will negatively affect business.
Over the next 10 to 20 years, ACHD plans to install medians over eight miles of Fairview Avenue, from Orchard Street to Linder Road.
Peterson Auto Group has been selling cars at their location on Fairview Avenue for more than 20 years. Mark Peterson says the changes will likely deter some customers.
"Fairview is fantastic," said Peterson. "Great business climate, so many vibrant businesses, restaurants, small businesses, a lot of traffic, it's been awesome. We love Fairview."
Peterson says about 25 percent of all the new cars sold in the state of Idaho are sold at one of the six new car dealers on Fairview. He is strongly opposed to the highway district's plan to put in medians, because of the effect it would have on his business and others in the area.
"In the short run, it makes it very difficult because you can't, of course, go across a non-traversable median," said Peterson. "But I think in the long run, as the small businesses, those are the ones that will be greatly affected, because a decreased in accessibility and traffic affects them because they're smaller. They will go out of business sooner if something were to happen negative. And if those small businesses go out of business, then in the long run it affects all of us as well."
ACHD has told business owners this plan would make the area safer, and Peterson said they support that.
"We believe that there are many things that we could do on Fairview before we jump to the radical solution of medians that would greatly help safety," he said. "Timing the lights, creating turn lanes, managing the intersections, these things would be steps that we would recommend happen before we jump to medians."
Rhonda Schauerman owns the small business Dhondalicious, an artisan food co-op.
"I was thrilled to death that I found something on Fairview, but it's just really hard to get people to slow down and come in," said Schauerman.
She said she doesn't think there is a big problem with accidents, but access to the area is a big concern for her.
"I've been in this location going on three years, and I think I've seen maybe two accidents, and it's usually been because of winter driving and ice and people not slowing down enough to accommodate the weather," Schauerman said.
Schauerman said it already takes long enough to get out onto Fairview and get where she needs to be. She thinks the medians would make that even more difficult.
"Being a struggling small business, it may be enough to just put us under," she said. "It would be very, very difficult."
ACHD says the road needs fixing
"We have an inordinate number of accidents on the corridor, and it's high time to do something about it," said Craig Quintana, spokesman for the ACHD. "Long term, on Fairview we're trying to increase safety while maintaining and improving traffic flow, and so the way to do that on a principal arterial, a big road, if you will, that has seen so much growth over the years, is to reduce the conflict points. And to reduce those conflict points, you're taking away some turns and you're taking away some driveway access."
This means there will be medians in front of some businesses, and they will have to share driveways with other nearby businesses.
"We're going to reduce the convenience to increase the safety," said Quintana. "It's a bargain we'll make every time."
ACHD said their online surveys show people want change.
"People are telling us, in big numbers, they're avoiding Fairview. They're not coming," said Quintana. "If we can improve the convenience and the safety then maybe some of that business will come back and at the end of the day it might be better."
Next Thursday, the ACHD commission will meet with the City of Boise, the City of Meridian and representatives from the business community to discuss the plans.
Work on this project will start at the intersection of Fairview and Cole, beginning as soon as 2016.