The Main Avenue South project is taking yet another turn.
Renton City Council has decided to take an alternative route for the project to converting Main Avenue South to a two-way street. The new option won’t completely close the intersection at Main Avenue South and South Second Street, and it is hoped the project will be more favorable to affected businesses.
The council passed a resolution on Monday authorizing a partial intersection closure on Main Avenue South and South Second Street, rather than a two month full closure.
At the March 13 Committee of the Whole meeting, Public Works Department officials said the initial four phase plan that totaled 95 working days of construction would take up to 181 days to complete. Public Works came up with an alternative proposal, one that would require a full closure of the key intersection for up to two months, and the closing down of all but one westbound lane on Bronson Way South heading to South Second Street.
Council members raised concerns on how this proposal would affect local businesses and the Fire Station No. 11.
While the city was able to work with the fire station to come up with a favorable solution that would not impede response time, business owners were less than pleased with this proposal.
At the March 13 council meeting, GHY Bikes owner A.J. Johnson said his business saw a 27 percent dip in sales during 2015-2016 summer, and had he known about the full-closure plan ahead of time, he would not have renewed his lease at 230 Main Ave S.
On March 20, Public Works came up with a half-street closure option after the council urged them to reconsider the full closure plan since it negatively impacted businesses.
The first phase of the new plan focuses on the east side of the intersection, keeping two lanes leading from Bronson Way South to South Second Street open, as well as one southbound lane on Main Avenue South open.
The second phase of the construction would take place on the west side of the intersection, and would have one southbound lane on Main Avenue South and two lanes from Bronson Way South to South Second Street open. There will be no westbound access on South Second Street.
The third phase will zone in on the northwest region of the intersection, and will allow a single lane from Bronson Way South to South Second Street, as well as keep Main Avenue South open. A small section of construction, north of the intersection, will also be incorporated into this phase.
“It took a little bit to figure because it’s a sizable project,” said Councilman Armondo Pavone. “But in the end, it’s going to be a better, elegant solution for traffic… also for the businesses to stay open and maintain their operation.”
At what cost
This half-street closure option, totaling up to three months, will cost an additional $90,000. The two-month full-closure option would have cost the city an additional $18,000, and the initial plan, which the contractor predicted would take up to 181 working days, would have cost an additional $380,000.
While partial closure allows more access to businesses near the intersection, Nancy Cejudo, owner of Ben’s Loans, located at 1005 South Second Street, said she’s still concerned about the construction.
“Our concerns are whether people can get in and out, and not have a negative experience,” she said. “People don’t want to go anywhere there’s construction. If you went shopping, would you rather go somewhere there’s construction or go to another place that has the same stuff?”