Better roads don’t mean better business to company owners and managers in west Spokane. They mean losing big money for the next five months.
The Interstate 90 paving project required six eastbound exits be closed on Thursday from Medical Lake to Division Street.
Because of the closures, customers must take long detours to reach nearly two dozen businesses west of the city until the ramps reopen Aug. 22.
“But people aren’t going to do that,” said Jack Worden, who owns Worden’s Washington Winery off Geiger Boulevard. “They’re going to see what a headache it is and blow by us and then they’re gone… We’ve been shut down.”
Worden and at least 15 other business owners met with state Department of Transportation officials Thursday to complain about the closures, which they said they were never told about.
At stake is thousands of dollars in potential income for the businesses, which include hotels, restaurants and a motorcycle dealership. During the summer months, owners said their business will suffer at least 40 percent.
“This is our prime time for business,” said Corey Sturlock, who manages the Starlite Motel. “We need some relief.”
DOT officials, however, said the project does not deny access to businesses along the freeway. Spokesman Al Gilson said he also doesn’t believe the work hinders customers from getting to any business.
“If they know where (the business) is and how to get there, they can get there,” he said.
The DOT refused business owners’ requests to keep the Geiger exit ramp open, saying it would be too costly to reroute lanes now and too dangerous for road workers.
Officials did agree to move lodging and gasoline information signs further west - before the Medical Lake exit - to warn drivers of the change.
“We want to work with them and do what we can, but we’re talking about taxpayers’ money too,” Gilson said. “That has to be considered.”
During the resurfacing project, a single eastbound lane will remain open for drivers going through Spokane, heading south on U.S. Highway 195 or exiting at Division Street.
For other eastbound motorists, the DOT recommends these detours:
To Airway Heights, Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane International Airport and U.S. Highway 2, take the Medical Lake interchange and follow Hayford Road to the airport or Highway 2.
To Sunset Hill, Maple Street, Monroe Street or other points on the west side of the city, take Medical Lake exit and Geiger Boulevard, which leads down Sunset Boulevard into the city.
Access to the southbound on-ramp of U.S. Highway 195, will be limited to drivers coming down the I-90 Sunset Hill from Highway 2.
Other eastbound I-90 drivers planning to go south on U.S. 195 will have to exit at Division Street and double back to the interstate going west, and use the Pullman highway exit open to westbound lanes.