Briarcrest Improvements Still Draw Business Disapproval

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The debate continues over one of Bryan's busiest streets. TxDOT's proposal of a raised median and other improvements have perked the ears of more than just drivers of the crowded road, but also business owners.

Tuesday, they sounded off again in a public workshop held by the city.

In all likelihood, it was the last chance to speak out for or against the Briarcrest changes on the table.

"We're going to document," said Joey Dunn, one of Bryan's assistant city managers. "We're going to have comment cards at each table. We want to make sure we get to where there's no guesswork."

But literally on the table, the changes represented on 20-foot-long maps continued to draw the same criticisms.

"I don't know really what the purpose of this meeting was," said Shawn Winder, co-owner of Briarcrest Cleaners. "I guess it was to get everyone together again and let people see the facts on it, but nothing has really changed."

TxDOT's proposal involves extending turn lanes, adding some new ones, and possibly adding new signals. But the key sticking point is raised medians. From one perspective, accidents on the heavily travelled road would theoretically be reduced by the multi-million dollar project. From another, left turns into a number of businesses would be eliminated.

"We can't do a widening and continuous right turns and major improvements without putting a median in," said Bryan Wood with TxDOT. "Can improvements be made into the median? Possibly, and we will look at those."

But for business owners like Jim Lewis, the lack of a lefts would mean a chunk of change out of his pockets.

"Theoretically, there's 42,000 cars coming down that road each day, and 21,000 of them are going east, and they can't get to me," said Lewis, the owner of Pro Golf Discount. "So in theory, you're taking away half of my potential traffic."

Councilmembers were on hand to hear from citizens as well, and in at least one's ears, he heard little support.

"This is the busiest street in town for business traffic, and we can't damage it so we lose the businesses that are currently there," said Mike Southerland. "They pay our taxes. They pay our property taxes."

The full council will decide whether to proceed or pass on the project at an upcoming meeting.

TxDOT says they expect traffic totals to grow much more in the coming years as new developments go in. Briarcrest is Bryan's main east-west thoroughfare.