Queen Creek resident Jill Charette feels betrayed as she watches a raised median being installed in front of her home on Ocotillo Road.
"This is a founding neighborhood in Queen Creek," Charette said. "It does feel like discrimination and it feels like they're trying to squeeze us out."
Charette, who has lived in her downtown Queen Creek home for 15 years, said she was never told about the medians planned for Ocotillo Road.
The raised medians came as a surprise when she walked out of her house one day and saw construction workers pouring concrete. Charette joins a long list of other town property owners, residents and area activists who are upset about the medians in Ocotillo Road.
"It doesn't make sense for the residents or the business owners," Charette said.
When the median is complete, she said, she will have no left turn access from her driveway and a very narrow area to back out of without hitting the new structure. She said neighbors have trailers and RVs where the narrow access could be a problem.
"We've given up easements for the sidewalk and the bike lane," she said. "We're accommodating them (the town), but they're not helping us at all."
Town officials said the medians on Ocotillo Road were approved by the Town Council as part of the Victoria Plan. The medians were first shown in construction drawings completed in 2005 and 2006, said spokeswoman Marnie Schubert.
In an e-mailed statement, Town Manager John Kross said the intent of medians on Ocotillo and beyond is to address safety and efficiency issues as traffic is expected to increase along the route. Ocotillo is the only roadway to traverse Queen Creek from eastern to western border.
"Traffic on this road is projected to increase substantially, and medians attempt to limit traffic accidents that result from turning movements when there are high volumes of traffic," Kross wrote. "On this issue, the traffic engineering analysis attempted to address the many factors that go into these decisions, including balancing needs of property owners along these high-volume corridors."
Town traffic engineer Mike Pacelli said the town doesn't have a formally adopted plan to address medians across town. But town officials said "principal arterial" streets with six lanes or more should have a median. Schubert said those principal arterials are Ellsworth, Power, Riggs, Rittenhouse, Germann and eventually Meridian roads.
"On major arterials with four lanes, we'd like to see medians approaching signals because of safety reasons," she said. "That is where Ocotillo comes into play - but we are considering those on a case-by-case basis."
Schubert said they try to reach out to the public to provide information on road projects and said most of the discussions have been on overall road construction, not just medians.
"If medians are the big issue, that is something we'll address moving forward," she said.
In July, Russ' TrueValue Hardware store owner Russ Carlson pleaded with the Town Council to do away with the median that blocks the main driveway to his business on Ocotillo. He said he is worried about the impacts it will have on his customers' safety and his livelihood.
The Town Council decided to keep the median, citing concerns with safety.
The older businesses and neighborhoods that line Ellsworth and Ocotillo in downtown Queen Creek are a contrast to the new businesses and town library being constructed in the same area.
Some property owners in the area wonder if the town is trying to squeeze them out by making access difficult.
"There's no access to my business," said Howard Young, owner of CarQuest Auto Parts on Ellsworth of the future plans for a median in front of his business. "They are stopping traffic from coming in. What we have right now works just fine."
Area activist and Pinal County resident Gordon Brown said the installation of medians does more than make accessing businesses and homes difficult.
"The integrity of Queen Creek and the soul of Queen Creek is at stake," he said. "This is just too important."
Brown and other Queen Creek residents, including Bill Fischbach and Bob Hildebrandt, are asking the town to meet with them and answer questions about the installation of medians. They want to see the Town Council revisit the median issue.
So far no meeting has been set.
"There's been a huge amount of outcry over this and there's been no response from the town," Carlson said. "They're consciously or unconsciously driving the independent businesses out of town."