SANDPOINT, Idaho - Downtown Sandpoint businesses are getting a breath of fresh air. The Sand Creek Byway has been open for four months and while some were cynical about the project at first, business owners are now giving it rave reviews.
The view out of Robin Campbell's store, Great Stuff, is very different these days.
"It is so much more relaxed and people are enjoying walking and crossing the street without thinking they will get hit," said Campbell.Sandpoint Sand Creek Byway
With the byway open, traffic that once rumbled through downtown is no longer there.
"Locals feel a lot more comfortable coming downtown, there's more parking and it's a neater place," said Timothy Frazier, who owns Cedar Street Bistro.
The downtown business association, which includes around 430 businesses, took a survey in August right after the byway opened. The results showcased thrilled business owners.
"A lot of people said the vehicle traffic had definitely decreased but the walking traffic had increased," said Marcy Timblin with the business association.
It seems contrary to initial concerns that the byway would take people away from the waterfront town.
While it turned out to be a good summer for local businesses, not everything is pinned on the new road. Frazier says Sandpoint is becoming more popular nationally, while Campbell said it's too early to tell how the byway will impact sales.
"I didn't notice any real difference in August, September. There are so many other variables. People say it's an election year, the weather. It's hard to tell," Campbell said.
But the byway does do one thing; advertise the destination spot as people drive through. One store owner told KXLY a client was driving on the byway when she saw Sandpoint. She liked what she saw and turned around to come visit.
For those who believe in the city, no matter what surrounds it, they know if you love it you will find a way to them.
"I've always believed that Sandpoint has well established it self as a destination. I think people who want to come here will come here anyway," said Campbell.
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