Proposed Construction Could Cause Major Congestion and Hurt Small Businesses

By: Daniel Armbruster Email
By: Daniel Armbruster Email

34,000 vehicles travel down Briarcrest Drive every day. Getting your vehicle in and out of Briarcrest Center onto Briarcrest Drive can be quite a task for drivers during busy traffic hours. If you add road construction to the mix that could create a big mess for those who travel through the area.

Beginning in late summer, the four-lane road will go down to two and small business owners at Briarcrest Center feel like their concerns have been cut out of the major change.

"We don't want to sit through the construction process," said Tiffany Henley, owner of Cat Walk Hair Studio. Henley says road construction forced her to leave her last location after walk-in customers stopped coming because they couldn't get to her business. Now she is worried she will have to move again.

"People come to us because of convenience and if we're not able to be reached they're not going to come to our business," said Henley.

Other business owners at Briarcrest Center are concerned as well. Some even tell us business has finally picked up recently and that could be reversed.

--"For the first time in ten years I can see my business increase and I don't want to jeopardize that. I want to stay here for a while." said Jim Lewis, owner of D&J Golf.

The construction has been planned for several years. Public meetings have been held where land and business owners voiced their concerns. A TxDOT spokesperson says many modifications have been made to help business owners.

"We have heard their concerns and we have worked to try and accommodate them", said Bob Colwell, a spokesperson forTxDOT.

TxDOT plans to widen intersections, upgrade traffic signals, make turn lanes longer and add a raised median in certain sections. The construction runs from Highway 6 west to Kent Street. The total cost of the project is $9 million. $3 million of the funds are being paid to landowners for right-of-way, but most of the business owners at Briarcrest Center are renting their space and won't receive any compensation if business slows down.

Some business owners tell us if they do have to move they won't stay in Bryan. That concerns City Councilman Mike Southerland, who says sales tax revenues are already down.

“Our sales tax dropped off by 2.5% last year and that’s because the traffic here is not able to get into our large box stores (i.e. Wal-Mart) and other stores along here. The rest of the state is up by about 8% on average. So there’s an issue there that we need to address and I’m thinking that if you block this road and I don’t think that it needs to be done. So that is what I’m trying to do is stop it," said Southerland.

Colwell tells News 3 that TxDOT plans to move forward with the project. The project will take two years to complete.

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