Branson West — The Missouri 13 widening project is designed to free up traffic between Branson West and Kimberling City, but some business owners in that area are concerned about what the new mile-long road, which could reroute traffic, means for their bottom lines.
Leona Baughman, owner of Leona’s Deli, has organized local business owners over the past two years to make sure they had a voice in the direction of the program.
She said she initially disagreed with the project and attended several meetings to voice her concern. But when the original plans for the project changed, she was more or less satisfied.
Still, she expects the new road to hurt her business some, at least in regard to tourists. She said it won’t affect her deli, which relies heavily on locals, as much as some businesses that need tourists to fuel their income.
On the other hand, Dustin Rhodes, manager of Gourmet Grocer, said he and the owners are pleased with the new project.
He said they’ve already spoken to the Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce about the necessary signage to alert drivers to the store, and a strong local following should keep business strong.
“We have a wonderful local following,” Rhodes said. “I’d say about 80 percent of our customers are local or part-time locals.”
Even if there’s a slight dip in sales, he said he’s planned to purchase billboard space and market the store in other ways.
Rhodes said they knew about the project before they opened the store last year, so it wasn’t a surprise.
“It’s progress,” he said. “You have to roll with the changes.”
But just down the road, some motel owners are unhappy with the project.
Terry and Donna Mayville, owners of Mountain Country Motor Inn, expect the new road to push potential customers away from their motel into Kimberling City.
Donna Mayville said she’s written letters to the Missouri Department of Transportation and to her representatives, but she’s not been pleased with the lack of action.
“They basically said ‘we don’t care,’” she said.
The Mayvilles both said they’ve felt lied to about the project.
They had hoped for an additional turning lane, to make Missouri 13 three lanes in front of their business.
Linda Bokel, MoDOT project manager for the Missouri 13 widening, said the three-lane plan wouldn’t have been a sufficient long-term solution.
“We really needed more than that,” she said. “That would have been just a Band-Aid, and it wouldn’t last five years.”
She said they came to the decision on the current project after several meetings with people in the community on what would work best.
“I think after it opens people will really be happy with the better traffic flow and I don’t think they’ll have any problems with customers getting to their businesses.”
She compared it to a similar project in Branson West, where she said businesses have been happy with the change.
Still, the Mayvilles said they’re unsure about the direction of their motel.
That uncertainty is part of the reason Terry Mayville decided to put the motel up for sale.
The Mayvilles said they hope it won’t impact business.
But based on what Donna Mayville’s seen happen to motels in Branson West, she said she isn’t optimistic.
“It’s all politics and money,” she said. “That’s what it boils down to.”