SPOKANE, Wash.-- Business owners in Hillyard were frustrated in June with a well overdue construction project at the intersection of East Francis Ave and North Freya Street.
Work on the North-South Corridor was scheduled to be completed in the Fall of 2013. The owner of the Dollar Depot on the corner said continual traffic revisions during the past year kept customers away.
“I gotta be honest with you, I lost about $30,000 last year because of these guys out here,” owner MJ Halverson said. “And it’s really frustrating, especially when there’s weeks and months on end when there’s nobody out here working.”
Progress on the project came to a stand-still in November.
“We had hoped to get this done before winter, but winter closed in on us,” said Al Gilson with the Washington State Department of Transportation. “And there's just some things you can't do, or that get more expensive in the winter weather. So, we elected to hold off and come back in spring to get things done right.”
The inconvenience for business owners will not end when the construction is over. Certain changes, such as concrete medians that prevent left turns into the strip mall at the corner, will be permanent.
Halverson said the medians would be a serious problem for his customers.
“We’ve got medians in the middle of the road here, so people going east can’t turn in here. And then nobody can leave,” he said.
WSDOT said the new medians were a standard feature to keep traffic moving and help prevent collisions. As for the ongoing traffic revisions, officials said they were one of the biggest obstacles they faced.
“One of the toughest challenges we have is to build something new, while still having traffic on it,” Gilson said. “We can’t just sneak in middle of the night and do some work and then run away.”
Officials said they were doing their best to keep access open for nearby businesses, though it might not be the open-access customers are used to. While there was still work to complete on traffic signals, islands and curbing, officials said the project should be complete by the end of the month.