State transportation officials assured a group of concerned Sunset Hill business owners that more signs will be posted near an Interstate 90 repaving project to guide drivers through detours in that area.
The transportation officials made that offer during a meeting Wednesday at the Holiday Inn West, one of the businesses affected by the road repaving, which began last week.
Business owners along the freeway say the closing of the Geiger Boulevard and Geiger exits will cause them to lose thousands of dollars by the time the project ends in late August.
Drivers trying to reach about a half-dozen motels, shops or a winery in that area will have to take longer trips and watch closely for signs explaining detour routes, said about a dozen people representing the businesses.
Those business people met with transportation officials last week and asked for another meeting to find solutions to their concerns.
In particular, they wanted the state to keep open one exit ramp during the project.
But neither of the exits will be opened, said Al Gilson, spokesman for the transportation department.
“It’s a safety issue and also a quality issue. We want to make sure that taxpayers see their money for this project is well-spent,” he told the group.
Contractors for the $6.5 million project said they can finish the job one month sooner if the exits are kept closed, making the job safer for workers.
Jack Worden, owner of Worden’s Washington Winery off Geiger Blvd., said most of his annual business occurs in that period. “I stand to lose a lot of that because people won’t be able to find us,” he said.
Transportation Department Traffic Engineer Bob Earnest told Worden and others that extra signs are being installed this week to guide drivers who will exit the freeway at Medical Lake to reach their businesses.
Not all those signs will have the names of the motels, shops or winery, he noted.
“We can provide the kind of backboard sign that the owners can then attach their own signs with their names on,” he said. “But that’s their choice,” he said.
Most of the signs the state will install will not mention specific business names. Instead, they’ll tell drivers that lodging, meals, and other services are reachable by following defined detour routes off the freeway, he said.