Merchants are open during yearlong road closure
July 3, 2008
By Jim Feehan
Merchants along Duvall Avenue Northeast near Sunset Boulevard are still open for business, despite the heavy road-making machinery as the major thoroughfare is closed for a widening project expected to take about a year.
Coal Creek Parkway and Duvall Avenue is closed from Southeast 95th Way at the Newcastle city limits to just north of Sunset Boulevard Northeast at Southeast 107th Street.
The closure at Southeast 107th Street allows for local access to businesses just north of Sunset Boulevard, including Oil Can Henry’s. The business’ owner Darrell Doepke, estimates that 15 percent to 20 percent of his business – providing automotive maintenance services, such as oil and filter changes – comes from Newcastle and Bellevue.
“I’m a little bit nervous, because we have a fair amount of our customers coming from those communities,” he said. “If we have to stay open later at night or extend our hours on weekends to accommodate customers who want to avoid the noise and the dust, we’ll do it.
“We’re hoping that a lot of our loyal customers for the past three years will find a way to get to us.”
The suggested detour route is Sunset Boulevard to Interstate 405. However, traffic is expected to increase on Union Avenue Northeast and Southeast 148th Street.
“As this goes on, it will be interesting to see if the lack of commuters not coming through will make it easier for locals to get around,” Doepke said.
Don Joss, owner of DJ’s Sports Cards, said he expects the closure will affect his drop-in business, mainly those coming from Newcastle and Bellevue. Joss, who has been in business for 20 years, with 18 at his Duvall Avenue site, said the closure will make getting there inconvenient. Still, he said the new road will be great when it’s done.
The $10.1 million project will widen the road to five lanes, including a two-way left turn lane in the center, and add a new traffic signal at Duvall and Northwest 21st Street, as well as sidewalks and bike lanes.
James Wilhoit, Renton project manager, said closing the roadway would cut the cost of construction in half.
City of Renton officials worked with those of the Renton School District in determining bus routes.
“A few school bus stops were moved from Duvall Avenue Northeast into housing developments.” said Randy Matheson, district spokesman. “The move actually placed bus stops closer to homes of many of the bus riders.”
No Hazen High School students are affected by the construction, he said.
Newcastle City Manager John Starbard said less commuter traffic is coming through Newcastle, which bodes well for construction on Coal Creek Parkway.
“The closure is going very well for us,” he said.