Snohomish residents cry foul over traffic safety project

SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- Several business owners along State Route 9 in Snohomish County are crying foul over a Washington State Department of Transportation project.

Designed to widen the highway and make it safer, Diana Francis, who owns Number1 New York Pizza near the town of Snohomish, says the permanent median being installed prevents customers from turning left into her shop.

Instead customers are forced to drive further South along the highway, flip a U-turn and come back North.

"Sometimes it takes them 15 or 20 minutes just to get to us," says Francis. "It's killing us."

Other businesses say their bottom lines are suffering too. A stylist at Clearview Cut-n-Style says she's down $300 to $400 a week because new customers can't get to her. Tom Pentecost, owner of Amish Country Originals, says his sales are down 50%.

"I think they wonder how they're going to get back around to come back and see me," says Pentecost.

WSDOT defends their median as a much needed, safety measure. During a study along a different stretch of Highway 9, WSDOT spokesperson Kris Olsen says they recorded 240 collisions between 2000 and 2005 when permanent medians were not installed. After installation, between 2008 and 2013, she says that number fell to 111 collisions.

WSDOT also cites federal traffic surveys that say frequent customers are more willing to drive further if it means they'll be safer.

Francis says she doesn't know if she can wait long enough to find out if that's true this time around.

"Our life savings will go away," she explains. "We put our hard earned life savings into this business."