As a business owner, citizen in greater Daytona Beach and Chair of the ISB Coalition, I have listened with interest to both sides of the discussion regarding the lane reduction concept scheduled to impact three blocks of Beach Street.

One group of local business owners is optimistic that the proposed development and wider sidewalks will create a "destination" atmosphere in downtown Daytona Beach that will bring people to our city.

Another group of business owners is fearful that the combination of ongoing construction and plans to reduce four lanes of traffic flow to two lanes of traffic congestion will deter visitors from the area altogether.

The existing master plan and traffic study for this project is now about 10 years old and is profoundly outdated. It would seem prudent for the city to evaluate all current traffic flow and parking needs, particularly in light of the expansion of downtown activities by local businesses, including Brown & Brown’s headquarter move, ambitious plans by Consolidated Tomoka and the reopening of the Orange Avenue Bridge.

That begs the question: Does any current data collection and/or scientific analysis exist with a focus of evaluating the concept of reducing four lanes to two lanes (called a "road diet") on this segment of Beach Street? The proposed plan seems absent of thorough analysis of a current traffic count and detailed and comprehensive analysis of needs for traffic lanes and parking spaces in this area.

My belief is that the city is taking a big risk and the proposed construction plan might become detrimental to general public traffic flow, thereby creating congestion and safety concerns along with a particular impact on the existing small businesses in downtown Daytona Beach.

Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal ran a story that explored the "road diet" fad, pointing out that emergency vehicles have become stuck on some city streets narrowed to promote beautification, walking and bicycling. The writer of that national story noted that this trend has proven deadly in some instances when first responders could not get through traffic gridlock in a timely manner to answer emergency calls.

With construction scheduled to start in January, I’m left to wonder when the public will be engaged about this significant change to the sidewalks, parking areas and traffic flow on Beach Street? We know how the local business owners feel, but how do the actual business customers and clients feel about this project?

I must add that the state has perfected guidelines for public engagement and the recommendation is for the same process to be followed with the Beach Street project. While polling one store at a time can be beneficial, that is not true public engagement.

Pedestrian traffic on Beach Street is a key component of this project, so what has actually been discussed – involving citizen input – about keeping citizens safe, especially in the evening hours?

Has anyone considered lighted pedestrian crossings or even in-pavement flashers? What consideration has been given to road crossings for the visually impaired community? We have a sizeable community of individuals who could offer valuable input on the challenges of navigating both street and sidewalk traffic on foot.

Since the last study for this project, I feel certain that new technology could potentially address all issues of the Beach Street area and could more comprehensively consider all current options available.

I am not sure if science would support the current proposed design style. Reducing four lanes to two lanes in an area that hopes to attract more business is both a bad and potentially dangerous recipe.

A roundabout street design, for example, is complicated and requires engineers with specialty to perfect it. While a roundabout may help reduce vehicle collisions, it also may create other difficulties at pedestrian crossings.

And what are the current measurements used to evaluate parking needs and availability? Has actual scientific data been a part of the planning or are the current plans an aesthetic guess about what is needed and what looks appealing solely as a design feature?

As this expensive ($2.6 million) project is planned and extensive thoroughfare upheaval(with at least one year of construction) is anticipated, are we also looking at the future? What will traffic movement and congestion in two, five and 10 years look like when the proposed project is in operation?

And has a thorough evaluation to create space for electric cars with charging stations been a part of this plan? What efforts have been made to evaluate the need for including low-cost sensors and transmitters in the Beach Street design that will make for a safe destination for both pedestrians and autonomous cars? Autonomous cars may not be here now, but testing is ongoing nationwide that will make these driverless vehicles a reality in the near future.

SUBHED Don’t undermine progress

Beach Street has made great strides in recent years to become more visitor-friendly and appealing. Guests may easily shop, dine and travel a short distance across the street to watch the Daytona Tortugas or they may spend an afternoon shopping and enjoy a leisure dinner in one of our friendly and affordable restaurants.

We have many great local businesses and they depend on a regular flow of traffic through this area. A year or more of construction on Beach Street could be the difference between thriving or failing for many of these small businesses. Reduced traffic flow to the area is a giant risk for them.

The last thing our small businesses need is for citizens and visitors to avoid Beach Street and the last thing Daytona Beach needs is just another pretty street with a row of empty storefronts.Where is the exigency? Isn’t it better to get something right as opposed to quick? The estimated $2.6 million dollars construction estimate is a lot of money for an experiment with only hope.

Fire, ready, aim is no way to deal with permanent infrastructure particularly when the casualties can be local businesses.

Ghyabi is CEO & President at Ghyabi Consulting & Management and an adjunct professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.