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Retailers say State Avenue construction is deconstructing their businesses
MARYSVILLE — “Put it to a standstill,” were the words George Clayton used in answer to a question on how State Avenue construction is affecting his business.
“There’s no concern for the retail business whatsoever,” Clayton added.
He said Saturdays used to be his busiest days. But with the arrival of construction in front of his Home Town Heating Stove Shop, Clayton said his weekend customers have dropped to a trickle. He said access to his store from State is tough to find, an assessment shared by a copy repairman who just happened to be in the shop. The man said it took him 15 minutes to find an opening in the construction tape and barrels that line State.
“It affects you when people can’t get to you,” Clayton said.
Clayton is not alone in his complaints regarding the construction that began in June. The $12 million project eventually will see State, also known as Smokey Point Boulevard, widened to five lanes between 136th and 152nd streets.
“Unfortunately, we’re looking at another year,” said Mayor Dennis Kendall in regard to completion of the project. “If we could get things done in a week, believe me, we would.”
After complaints about the road, which has been reduced to gravel with traffic moving on one lane in each direction, reached City Hall, Kendall said he went out and drove the stretch himself.
“It may not be the nicest street I’ve ever driven on,” Kendall said, but he added the widening is decidedly needed.
“We’ve got to have that road,” he said.
Kendall contends the city and contractor Granite Northwest of Everett are doing everything they can to maintain access to business along the street.
“We strive to take care of everybody we can,” Kendall added.
Clayton said he called the city to complain, but was not at all happy with the response.
“You talk with the city and you get nowhere,” he said.
At Gourmet Latte, a roadside coffee stand on State, a barista said the shop appears unreachable from the street.
“It’s slowed down everything,” said the employee of the construction. She didn’t want to give her name, but she freely added the lack of business might be serious enough to threaten the future of the three-year-old business.
The owner of the shop was not immediately available for comment.
Kendall indicated that it’s unfortunate, but roadside coffee stands tend to suffer during roadwork. One stand owner made the unusual request that the city reimburse him for the profits lost during previous construction along State. While the man was worried about losing his business, Kendall said the stand is still there.
As for drivers struggling to make it down the road, Kendall advised patience and caution.
“It’s a construction zone, so you shouldn’t be doing 50 miles per hour,” he said. “If you drive carefully, you’re fine.”
He said during his recent trip down State, he found a large pothole and called contractors about the problem the following Monday. He said the hole already had been filled.
In addition to widening the street, when the project first was announced, Marysville Community Information Officer Doug Buell said the work eventually will include:
n Upgrading the traffic signal at 136th.
n Installing a new signal at 152nd.
n Adding various streetscape elements, including planted median strips, planted sidewalk buffers and decorative signal poles and lighting.
Buell described State as a major north-south thoroughfare carrying upwards of 22,000 vehicles per day. The city further has touted the route as someday serving as a main access to future development within the Smokey Point area and possibly a new University of Washington branch campus.
“Our key goals are to expand roadway capacity and improve safety for both motorists and pedestrians who will benefit from the new sidewalks and crossing signals,” said Public Works Director Kevin Nielsen.
“When the work is done, we think the streetscape design elements we are adding will be a welcome and attractive addition to this stretch of State Avenue,” he continued.
The project also affords Marysville the opportunity to upgrade antiquated water mains and install new trunk sewer lines needed to meet future growth demands, said Project Manager Pat Gruenhagen. Kendall said once that sewer and water work is finished, conditions on the streets, both for drivers and retailers, should improve.