Arlington Businesses Hope to Roadblock Planned Median

Arlington says median on Collins Street between Arkansas Lane, Pioneer Parkway is "critical"

A planned median along one of city's busiest streets is intended to prevent illegal left turns, but some say it will be bad for business.

In 2010, the city installed yellow traffic buttons that split the northbound and southbound lanes of Collins Street between Arkansas Lane and Pioneer Parkway. The buttons, which are about the size of a sliced-in-half softball and fastened to the road, are supposed to serve as a median.

"We noticed people making illegal turns, so we installed the yellow buttons to try to prevent people from doing that, but what we found [is] that it wasn't working," city spokeswoman Sana Syed said.

The city prefers that drivers make a U-turn at the nearby intersections of Pioneer Parkway or Arkansas Lane instead of making a left turn and driving over the buttons, which are about as inconvenient to driver over as speed bumps.

Arlington now plans to install a concrete median.

"This is a more permanent solution to an ongoing problem," Syed said. "It's a safety issue. We are confident that this is the right move to make to keep drivers safe on that stretch of road."

But many of the dozens of businesses along that stretch of Collins Street say they fear drivers will be too inconvenienced and will simply keep going past their stores and eateries.

"You're going to devalue my property. ... You're going to hinder their access and by stopping them from coming here, you're going to force someone to going south on Collins, to go through the dangerous intersection, make a U-turn and go through it again," said Lawrence Dino, owner of Dino's Subs. "That's not too safe, is it -- to run people through a bad intersection?"

Dino's Subs set up shop 30 years ago on Collins Street. Dino said the intersections are the problems, not the stretch of Collins Street between Arkansas lane and Pioneer Parkway.

"In those 30 years, we've seen a lot of accidents, but we've never, ever seen an accident between Arkansas Lane and Pioneer Parkway on South Collins," he said. "We've witnessed dozens of accidents at the intersection of Arkansas Lane and Collins."

The city's plan for a median is similar to the one constructed along an equally busy stretch of nearby Cooper Street a few years ago.

The owners of Dixie's Fashion Accessories on Cooper Street said they have noticed a change since the median was installed outside their property.

"We don't notice the number of accidents that we did, and anything that helps keep traffic moving ultimately helps us," owner Kandy King said.

Syed said that a study found that crashed decreased after the Cooper Street median was installed.

"The Texas Transportation Institute actually went back to that intersection where medians were installed on Cooper south of Arkansas and found that accidents were reduced by 42 to 47 percent," she said.

The city held a public meeting Tuesday night to inform Collins Street property owners about the construction, which is scheduled to begin in May and be finished by this summer.

Dino said he was surprised to find out at the meeting that the project, currently in the design phase, is much further along than he expected.

"We were never properly notified," he said. "All of a sudden it was, 'Come to a construction meeting.' No one ever said, 'This is proposed to happen here.'"

The long-time Arlington business owner said that he and several other property owners offered some of their land to the city for free in the hopes of creating more space for a turning lane instead of a median.

"They said, 'Oh, that's too expensive,'" Dino said. "In other words, they ... want us to pay for what they wish to try and do. Everyone is going to suffer from this."

The city understands business owners' concerns but median projects on other streets have not negatively affected businesses, Syed said.

"The most important thing is keeping drivers safe," she said.

The project is expected to begin May 28 and take about 45 days to complete.

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