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Washington Voices

Businesses survive road work

Jan and Jack Hamlin enjoy lunch at Donna’s Diner as Sprague Avenue reconstruction is seen reflected in the window Wednesday. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Jan and Jack Hamlin enjoy lunch at Donna’s Diner as Sprague Avenue reconstruction is seen reflected in the window Wednesday. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Sprague work should be done by end of August

The first phase of reconstruction is complete on Sprague Avenue from Sullivan Road to just east of Adams Road and several local businesses say the experience wasn’t as bad as they feared.

Before construction began, some business owners attended meetings hosted by the city of Spokane Valley to express concerns about access to their businesses during construction. Jennifer Johnson of Jennifer’s Auto Sales at Sprague and Progress was one of those.

Johnson said she was so worried about a huge drop in sales that she considered moving her business to another location for three months. “I’m glad we didn’t,” she said.

While sales did drop initially, people seemed to figure out how to reach the business. Johnson said she was impressed with how crews worked hard to get the job done as soon as possible. “I think they did an amazing job,” she said. “We actually sold a couple of guys some cars.”

Lawrence Phelps, sales and marketing director for Northwest Fence, said he appreciated how the construction company kept him up to date. “They always came in and told us what they were doing and left us access,” he said. “It was a very pleasant experience for what it was.”

Rob Passmore, who owns Donna’s Diner at Sprague and Progress Road with his wife, Donna, said the first stage of construction on the north side of Sprague didn’t affect his business much. “In fact, we had a record Father’s Day,” he said. “It was unbelievable.”

But sales did drop when construction started on the south side of the street directly in front of his diner and business hasn’t fully recovered even though the construction has moved down the road. “It’s still going on,” he said. “Sales have been down.”

Passmore said the city and the contractor have done a great job. “They seem really honestly concerned about businesses in the area,” he said.

He said his wife went out with iced tea for the crews on a very hot day when they were laying asphalt. “They looked miserable,” he said.

The second phase, from Evergreen to just east of Adams, is now under way. Project manager Pete Fisch said he doesn’t expect a shallow natural gas line on the south side of the street to cause delays as it did in the first phase, when crews were set back a week. Finding the line only inches beneath the surface in some areas forced construction to a stop while the line was buried deeper.

There was a meeting between the city, construction crews and Avista to determine who would work in what areas at what times during the second phase, Fisch said. “It’s working out,” he said. “Everyone is staying busy. We don’t anticipate losing any days or having any delays.”

The reconstruction project is expected to be complete by the end of August.