Letter: ‘Road diet’ is really ‘starvation diet’

Editor’s note: For clarity, the referendum does not mention Business 51 or a road diet. 

To the Editor-

The day of decision is almost here. On Tuesday, August 9, the people of Stevens Point will cast their votes on whether Business 51 lives or dies. The potential death referred to here is that of a thriving business corridor.

After the road diet vote is cast, Business 51 will still exist. It’s just that the “business” in the name “Business 51″ will start to go missing if the referendum fails.

There is a reason why so many business owners along Business 51 have spoken loudly against the road diet with their time and money trying to educate the voters about what a truly bad idea the road diet is. An important part of having a business is staying in business, and the owners of enterprises along Business 51 know they won’t be for long if the city finishes wrecking convenient access to their properties for their customers.

With the road diet’s plan to reduce speed comes reduced traffic flow. That’s bad for business and bad for commuters. Add to that the removal of 57 driveways which compounds the difficulty for drivers trying to visit their favorite businesses. Then, pile on the fact that there will be no left turns, so when people leave an establishment that’s already been a nightmare to get to, often they’ll be forced to go far out of their way because the drivers can only turn right when they leave one of the few surviving business driveways.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball for smart business people to realize that the road diet is a “starvation diet.” They understand that this plan will put many out of business. Now, I know a few people reading this may think, “So what if they’re gone? They have lots of competition.”

That may be so, but who’s going to take over these properties? My guess is…nobody. Many stores and businesses will close, but if traffic can’t access the real estate, who will want them?

Empty stores make blighted, ugly real estate, and that means fewer tax dollars from formerly successful businesses. That also means higher taxes for the residents of Stevens Point.

A yes vote for the referendum gives the city a chance to really examine an issue that will have a profound effect on the city for decades. Once the cement is poured, it’s too late. There will be no turning back. A YES vote means that there is now time to come to a compromise that’s good for the taxpayers, good for traffic flow, and will keep Business 51 a vital artery in the life of the community.

Vote YES on Tuesday, August 9.

Jack Elsinger
Stevens Point

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