BOISE -- A group of business owners on Boise's Fairview Avenue wants to stop the county from installing medians on a nearly 8-mile stretch of roadway from Linder Road to Orchard Street.
The group is known as the Fairview Business Coalition, and members are asking the Ada County Highway District to help ensure customer access to their businesses. They'll get a chance to petition the county on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
However, ACHD traffic engineers insist the plan is designed to protect drivers over profits.
BUSINESS OWNERS QUESTION ACCESSIBILITY
Emily Barker co-owns "Hello Dinner" located in the Town and Country Shopping Center on Fairview Avenue in Boise. She says her business provides fresh healthy meals to families in a quick way.
“There are a lot of local owned businesses, and it’s a center people come to when they are looking for healthy food,” said Barker.
The owners of Hello Dinner opened the business in December after working for another similar business on Eagle Road called My Fit Foods. Barker said that business failed partly due to access on a road with medians already in place.
“It was hard for customers to go around and find us,” she explained.
When Barker heard about an Ada County Highway District plan to place medians on Fairview, she joined in a fight with other Fairview businesses.
“We really rely on that traffic coming in the door,” said Barker.
She is part of the newly formed Fairview Business Coalition, a group of about 200 other Fairview businesses, who are joining in the fight to stop the median plan.
Just down Fairview, not too far from Hello Dinner, is Bruneel Tire Factory, a longstanding Treasure Valley chain of tire stores.
Owner Craig Bruneel said his Fairview tire shop is one of his busiest, so he's also joined in the fight against medians and is the vice president of the coalition.
“It would create in my mind, a funnel of all our customers to the competitors on that end and the competitors on that end,” said Bruneel.
Bruneel said it’s not that the Fairview Business Coalition doesn’t want to see a change in the major road for safety, but that there are better ways to go about it.
“We believe that its very important to have a safe environment and I know that ACHD has talked about safety, safety, safety, and that is important to us, but there is a lot of things that can be done to promote safety without going to the extreme measure of cutting off all access with concrete medians,” said Bruneel.
ACHD RESPONDS TO CRITICISM
However, those with the ACHD say they have done their research, and medians are an effective safety tool for busy roads.
“It’s a teeter totter, and we are always going to land on the side where safety trumps,” said ACHD Chief Information Officer Craig Quintana.
Quintana said according to their research there are 400 traffic accidents a year on Fairview Ave. and five people have died since 2007.
“Medians take care of the free for all,” he explains. “You have people making lefts, people slowing unacceptably getting a lot of rear end accidents.”
Thus, safety is placed above driver convenience.
“We are getting to the breaking point, and really something needs to be done. It's just unsafe. More than a crash a day, on a problem that you can fix at this point it would be irresponsible for us not to act,” Quintana said.
Wednesday night the ACHD Board of Directors are set to review and possibly approve the Fairview Corridor Management Plan, which is a long-term approach on how to safety solve problem areas on Fairview.
Quintana said it will take time for each phase of the management plan to go into effect, if passed but they want to assure people that the research has been done.
“I guess what we are trying to assure people is that we have done the research these have worked elsewhere to very good effect,” said Quintana.
Still, Fairview business owners are going to make sure that when Wednesday night comes, their fears and concerns are heard loud and clear.
“Fairview is a long standing commerce street. The best commerce street in the state of Idaho, and if you go and cut that out and turn that into a freeway, that's not the flavor of what Fairview is,” said Bruneel.
The meeting starts at 6:00 Wednesday night at the ACHD auditorium, located at 3775 Adams Street in Garden City.