Over the last few months, merchants have voiced their concerns at the Scott County Board of Supervisors’ meetings, hoping to get help for their struggling businesses.
This month, three business owners addressed the board with a unified plea for answers.
“This project is absolutely killing us,” said Marty Williams, owner of Burgers R Us, “and if something is not done, we will be a former business.”
What’s happened since last month?
During January’s BOS meeting, Williams provided his contact information to VDOT and was told someone would meet with him to address him concerns.
As of Wednesday morning’s meeting, Williams said, no VDOT representatives had been to his business to talk with him in person.
“This lack of action and lack of communication on their part just reinforces my feelings of how they do not care what businesses they destroy or the livelihoods of the business owners and their employees,” Williams said.
What are the business owners saying now?
Williams, along with the owners of Gold & Guns and Enterprise Gas, expressed the same overarching concern: The construction has complicated access to their businesses, which has decreased their sales.
Mary Murphy, owner of Gold & Guns, added that the project affects more than just Scott County residents.
“This is the first thing that people from Tennessee are seeing (when they come into Weber City),” Murphy said. “They’ve already seen it now for over a year, and we’ve got another year and a half or two years of … this major construction, this major bottleneck, right there when they come across, which is going to stop them from coming over or using that way to come over.”
How did the supervisors respond?
Though Murphy said she had received a visit from one of the county supervisors, Williams said none of the supervisors had been to his business to discuss his concerns one-on-one.
Darrel Jeter, the supervisor for Weber City, said he wasn’t sure how he could help Williams and the other business owners, adding that “we do not control VDOT.”
Despite their lack of control over the project, BOS Chairman David Redwine reassured Williams that the board hasn’t forgotten about his concerns.
“There’s been more discussion about your problem from December to today than any other problem we’ve got in this entire county,” Redwine said. “… We have very little power, but we’re doing everything within our power to urge VDOT to help this problem.”
Is there a solution?
All three business owners and many of the supervisors expressed concerns about the length of the construction and asked if it could be expedited, even if crews had to work 24 hours a day.
VDOT representative James Parsons, who was present at the meeting, said that would make the project significantly more expensive, though it would increase productivity if the necessary funding could be found.
“We’re sorry that the businesses are struggling and having problems,” Parsons said, “but we are trying to pursue with the project and do the best we can to get done.”