Businesses Say Median Strip Hurting Sales

The Highway 412 lane expansion project from Washington Avenue to State Line Road in Siloam Springs expanded the road from four to six lanes. But now there is a median that some say is preventing drivers from turning left directly into businesses.

City officials and business owners say the median prevents drivers from having direct access to businesses on the opposite side so, drivers have to make a U-turn to get where they need to go.

“There are approximately 117 businesses in that area that are affected immediately by this median,” said Holland Hayden, City of Siloam Springs Director of Communications.

Some businesses say they’re seeing fewer customers because getting there isn’t convenient for drivers.

“Usually people can turn in this way but they can`t turn in that way because they have to go all the way to the stoplight and turn around so it`s hard for business,” said A.J Yoeum, Shipley Donuts.

Several businesses are affected.

“Kind of slow down a lot because people have to turn around and they don’t like it,” added Dong Tran at Lee’s Nails.

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department expanded the section of Highway 412 from four to six lanes because of increased traffic.

The state reported a traffic increase from 14,000 vehicles in 1986 to 28,000 in 2005 when the study was conducted.

The median is there for several safety reasons and previously that section of Highway 412 was not access controlled.

Officials said there are many driveways to businesses from the highway along that stretch which results in a high number of left turns.

With the increasing volume of traffic and the recent expansion left turns need to be controlled for safety and efficient moving traffic, which is the purpose of the median, according to officials.

Hayden said during the planning phases there were several public meetings where residents and business owners were able to express concerns.

“Because we knew that it was going to really affect the town and businesses in Siloam Springs we tried to offer a lot of different solutions.  However at the end of the day we didn’t have much say to it.”

State officials say 34 percent of those who attended the meetings supported the improvements which included the median.

And some say it`s just going to take time for people to get used to making a U-turns.

“It took them awhile to realize hey it is legal to make a U-turn, they would say ‘we can`t get there anymore,’ and I would say ‘no it’s legal, just go to the stoplight turn around and come back,’” said Sylvia Burnett, head waitress at Callahan’s Steak House.

The state is currently in the design phases on continuing the expansion project east of Washington Avenue.

The project was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.