Widening of Silverbell means more changes to local business

Source: Craig Reck / Tucson News Now
Source: Craig Reck / Tucson News Now

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Now that the design for the Silverbell Improvement Projectis nearly finished, a local business owner is worried what the widening will doto his store.

Silverbell Nursery is the only business that frontsSilverbell Road, according to manager Matt Smit. He expects construction forthe Grant to Goret phase to sit in front of his shop for up to two years.

"After that, they'll just be about a half mile up the roadfor another eight years," said Smit.

The nursery has been in his family since 1986, and Smit saidthe property has sat relatively unchanged since 1959. He said the widening ofSilverbell will force him to change his parking lot, build a new entrance andreplace the store's signs.

"Unfortunately we think every day, 'they're going to put usout of business, or maybe we can survive through it'," said Smit.

Jim Schoen, the senior principal engineer for the project,said there are several eyes on Silverbell Nursery to make sure construction doesnot cause too much confusion for the business.

"We're doing the best we can to mitigate the problems," saidSchoen.

He said the foreman will have almost daily meetings withSmit.

Britton Dornquast, program manager for the Regional TransitAuthority's Main Street program, said consultants have met with severalbusinesses in the area and there are no major concerns. Silverbell Nursery hasnot met with Main Street staff, according to Dornquast.

A public meeting Monday night provided families and localbusiness owners with an update to the project. The new aspects are thelandscape and artwork involved. Schoen said it's important that the widenedroad maintains a desert feel to it, but people in the audience seemed moreconcerned with the road itself.

"The design is wonderful," said one woman in the crowd. "ButSilverbell is almost un-drivable for most of us here."

Schoen said the pavement is a bit of a problem onSilverbell, but local leaders are searching for the money to pave parts of theroad not included in the improvement project.

The first phase of the Silverbell Improvement Project is expected to take up to two years. The entire process that stretches from Grant to Ina is scheduled to last closer to 10 years.

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