A group of Evans business owners gathered Friday at the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce office to publicly express their concerns about a proposed concrete median on Washington Road.
Lamar LeRoy, the owner of Hardee's on Washington Road in Evans, along with other owners of businesses between Belair and Halali Farm roads, supports a center turn lane instead of the Georgia Department of Transportation's proposed concrete median.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
The business owners said they believe such a median would have only a negative impact on their businesses and customer safety.
"I bought this property 3 years ago," said Lamar LeRoy, the owner of Hardee's at 4360 Washington Road in Evans. "I had no idea a median was in the works. If I had, I probably would have thought twice about whether or not I wanted to buy it."
The Georgia Department of Transportation is planning to renovate the Washington Road corridor in Evans, and those plans have included replacing the road's center turn lane, which was installed last year, with a concrete median from Belair Road to Halali Farm Road. Owners of the 83 businesses in that area oppose the median because they say it will deter customers and put them in harm's way by having them make U-turns at median breaks, said Gordon Renshaw, the director of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.
"As business owners, we chose our locations because of convenient access,'' said Karen Chrjapin, the owner of PostNet in the Kroger shopping center at 4357 Washington Road. "And when a median goes in, convenience goes out the window. Consumers are going to shop where it is convenient for them to go. That means easy access, easy in and easy out. A median is going to thwart that.''
The business owners said the center turn lane has made the busy thoroughfare much safer by decreasing wrecks. They said they hope the Georgia DOT will amend its plans and keep the lane at least to Halali Farm Road.
The chamber passed a resolution supporting the center turn lane and opposing the median at a February board meeting. After the chamber took business owners' concerns to the Columbia County Board of Commissioners, the commission issued a letter to the Georgia DOT in December requesting the amendment.
The owners questioned the safety of forcing motorists to make U-turns on such a busy road and whether tractor trailers can even make the U-turns.
Gary Richardson, who owns a self-serve car wash at 4393 Washington Road, said that cutting traffic in half would cut business in half.
Others said they think a median also would have other effects.
"I think it will impact the subdivisions, the people who feed into Washington Road," LeRoy said. "Most of them haven't given any thought to the fact that a lot of them are going to have to drive a quarter of a mile out of their way to make a U-turn to come back. U-turns cause a lot of accidents ... I know DOT has a policy of doing what is best for safety. I'm not sure this is the right route we need to take for safety purposes."
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