RIVERVIEW — The long-awaited improvements to Boyette Road are almost done, but some residents say the widening project has made driving more inconvenient and dangerous.
New medians on two streets that lead to the Boyette Road area have infuriated homeowners and business owners, who say the structures are limiting access to a busy shopping center and make turning risky and cumbersome.
After complaints by residents, the county agreed last week to allow left turns from Boyette Road to the Goolsby Pointe Shopping Center by planning to open a median. But other new medians, which restrict access to the shopping center from McMullen Road and a neighborhood on Balm-Riverview Road, are still in place.
The medians are part of a three-phase project to expand Boyette Road to four lanes from two starting at U.S. 301. The medians — which are standard for a divided highway — force drivers to make a U-turn at a busy intersection, then turn right to reach neighborhood staples, including a grocery store, a dry cleaner and a gas station.
"We heard what everybody was saying, and we went out and re-evaluated the situation and (saw) what we could do and still keep our safety standards up," said county Public Works spokesman Steve Valdez. "That's what we came up with."
That will be done when the $14 million project wraps up in about a month and will provide a dedicated left-turn lane. The median on McMullen Road, he said, will remain closed.
That doesn't put Jim Petowski at ease. The Shadow Run resident, who calls the month-old medians "a disaster," is fronting a petition and e-mail campaign in protest. He says U-turns cause accidents and make it awkward to access stores, but he's also wary of the county's recent decision. He and others want drivers to regain left-turn access to and from the plaza at McMullen Road.
"I don't think that's going to alleviate the problem," he said of the county's recent changes to the median on Boyette.
"If you put a cut in (the median), what's the safety issue on that?"
The Atlanta-based company that manages the plaza is also "disappointed in the design of the recent road improvements at the intersection," Martha Stocks, senior property manager for BVT Management Services Inc., said in an e-mail.
Publix's corporate office said it has similar concerns.
For Christine Humienny, who works at Majik Touch Dry Cleaners, the changes mean a longer commute and a potential threat.
Cars and trucks, she said, are also going in reverse and traveling on the roads' shoulders. Business is slower, too.
"Accidents are nearly happening all the time," she said. "I have quite a few irate customers."
Times Staff Writer Victoria Bekiempis can be reached at (813) 661-2442 or email@example.com.