Business owners on Meridian's 22nd Avenue voiced concerns about the avenue’s planned beautification project at a City Council work session on Tuesday.
The project will renovate the stretch of 22nd Avenue from near the site of the old Village Fair Mall to Front Street. Engineering firm Neel-Schaffer, Inc., developed the plans for the project, which include building new sidewalks, adding new landscaping and making other changes.
“I do understand that the City of Meridian considers 22nd Avenue as a main artery to get in and out of the city,” said Eddy Chaney, president of Ed Chaney Tire Pros.
“I’m all for beautification, but I’m also for progress and I know from a business standpoint, if you mess the traffic flow up, it’s going to hurt the retail businesses on 22nd Avenue.”
The avenue, also known as Sela Ward Parkway, currently has two northbound lanes, two southbound lanes and a turn lane.
Under the current plans for the project, northbound traffic would still have two lanes, but southbound traffic would be reduced to one lane for a couple of city blocks.
City of Meridian Chief Administrative Officer Eddie Kelly told The Meridian Star that Neel-Schaffer is still doing work on these plans, though.
Chuck Sanders, President of Sanders Gas Company, said at the work session that he wants to make sure that traffic flow on 22nd Avenue is not impeded.
“We’re not convinced at all that this three lanes is not going to be a major problem,” he said.
Sanders told The Meridian Star he is concerned that three lanes would not be able to handle the number of trucks and other vehicles that come down Sela Ward Parkway.
Business owners voiced other concerns about the project, too. Under the current plans for the project, vehicles driving south on A Street could only turn into the northbound lanes of Sela Ward Parkway because there would be a divider in the middle of the road.
The vehicles would not be able to turn into a southbound lane. Kelly said the city is still in conversations with Neel-Schaffer about what the intersection of A Street and 22nd Avenue will look like.
Roger Burke, owner of moving company Graham Transfer & Storage, disagrees with the idea of creating a divider that would prevent southbound turns from A Street onto 22nd Avenue.
Graham Transfer & Storage is located on A Street. Burke told The Meridian Star that trucks leaving his business often turn southbound onto 22nd Avenue so they can get to the interstate.
Burke also disagrees with the plan to remove the traffic light at the intersection of A Street and 22nd Avenue and the plan to make there to be only one southbound lane on 22nd Avenue.
Kelly said at the work session that he will meet with Neel-Schaffer and will also meet with the business owners.
Erin Kelly contributed to this report.