Tribune-Courier News Editor
Several Benton businesses say the widening of Fifth Street will have an impact on their businesses.
Keith Todd, public information officer for the Kentucky Department of Highways said the plan is to widen Fifth Street from three lanes to five. The department is hopeful of submitting the project for bids late this year with construction to begin in 2014. Todd expects the project to require two construction seasons.
Doug Galyen, owner of West Kentucky Management, said the construction phase of the road widening will bring the project to within three feet of his front door and other tenants of the strip mall he owns. Subway, Benton Chiropractic and Cash Express are among the business that will be impacted.
Galyen said relocation specialists with the state highway department have been in contact with those businesses. He said he is unsure at this point what his next course of action might be.
Dr. David Cassity, a Benton dentist, believes construction could hurt his business. Easements from utilities would deprive his Fifth Street office of possibly two parking places. The biggest problem will be construction, when a temporary construction easement could bring work within three feet of his entry ramp.
“I worry about how my patients will get in and out of my office,” Cassity said. “We have some patients who are handicapped and need to use walkers or wheelchairs. They won’t be able to park near the entrance when work is going on.”
With inconvenient parking and a lack of handicapped access, Cassity said he worried some patients would seek another dentist.
“I built my office back in 1996 thinking I would have adequate parking for the lifetime of my business,” Cassity said.
Another factor that bothers Cassity is a lack of a public forum to offer the state feedback about the possible impact of the project.
“I feel helpless, like they’ve told me this is the way it’s going to be and we have no control,” Cassity said. “I just hope that if they are going to do this, that they get it done quickly and don’t drag their feet.”
Next door to Cassity’s office is McCully Automotive. Manager Troy McCully said he does not have Cassity’s problem, having a larger property and an office further from the street.
“I think the widening will be good for us and the city,” McCully said. “It will modernize the area and the turn lane is nice. I hope they add a sidewalk because I walk a lot. We’ll lose some frontage, but not much. It will probably be a mess during construction.”
McCully added the project would eliminate a canopy on his lot, and force him to relocate his sign.
Paul Thurman, market president of Heritage Bank’s Benton branch, said he anticipates a need to adjust parking during construction.
“From what we understand, the temporary easement will be just five or six feet from our front sidewalk,” Thurman said. “We are making an alternative plan to combine customer parking with employee parking.”
Thurman said the only difference at his bank would be the loss of a drainage ditch outside the building. At this time, Heritage is not considering moving to a new or alternate location.