By Todd Wels

Triplicate staff writer

The Jordan Creek Project may help fish, but it is hurting businesses and inconveniencing travellers on Parkway Drive.

Thats the conclusion drawn by several business owners, who have circulated petitions concerning the matter.

Traffic has been closed to both directions of Parkway Drive at Jordan Creek since mid-September, while construction workers remove the existing culvert and replace it with a shorter, more fish-friendly one.

The road is expected to be closed until Nov. 1.

Parkway Market owner Bunny Benson said thats much too long.

Benson said business at her store has declined by approximately 90 percent since the project began.

Thats where my business comes from; the other side of Jordan Creek, she said Friday.

Benson said shes afraid her business will be permanently damaged by the closure.

Its hard for me to get my customers back, she said. Theyll get used to something else.

Parkway Feed owner Diana ODell said her business has not been hurt by the closure, but noted that many of her customers have complained about the closure. The closure re-routes much of the traffic that would have run down Parkway to U.S. Highway 101 or Elk Valley Crossroad.

You have to drive a couple miles out of the way to get here, and then a couple of miles back, and gas is expensive, ODell said.

She noted that a complete road closure is unusual in Del Norte County.

They usually leave one lane open, she said.

In response to the inconvenience and financial blow dealt to them, businesses along Parkway Drive have circulated a petition to the Board of Supervisors, protesting the total closure and the lack of an acceptable detour.

Were more than glad to have people sign it, ODell said.

ODell and Benson have both received many signatures, as has Sandra Love of Sandys Hidden Gardens, whose nursery has also been hard-hit by the closure.

More than 100 people have signed off on the petition, which was delivered to the board earlier this week by Love.

It really did surprise me that there was so much vocal concern, Supervisor Chuck Blackburn said.

There was little controversy when the project was considered and passed by the board earlier this year.

I know this project has been a year, a year-and-a-half in the making, Blackburn said.

He said the county is caught in a difficult position, since the project has already begun.

I wish there were a way for an alternate route or a detour, but construction of one would probably be prohibitively expensive, he said.

Blackburn said he would discuss the issue with his fellow supervisors, and hopes for a quick end to construction.

Bunny Benson hopes so too.

Id like to have them get busy on that project too, she said.