Thousands of motorists, and the businesses vying for their attention, may find themselves cursing Monday when the Monroe Street Bridge shuts down for about two weeks.
“I’m a little peeved,” said Josh Scott, owner of Time Bomb Collectibles just north of the bridge. He said he hadn’t seen the notice of the closure and learned about it from another business owner in the area.
The bridge will remain closed until mid June while workers install manholes and reroute stormwater pipes to an underground facility under construction near the Kendall Yards development. Commuters will be rerouted to Washington Street via Boone Avenue on the north side, drawing scorn from shops along the Monroe corridor who fear they will lose business.
Alex Tiffany, store manager at Golden Rule Brake on the corner of Monroe and College, learned of the closure last Wednesday. Past Monroe Street closures have significantly cut sales at the service shop, which has been in its present location since 1956.
“We’re going to lose half our business next month,” Tiffany said. He’s also worried about blasting that may occur, as past construction projects caused damage to the building.
Julie Happy, spokeswoman for Spokane’s Business and Developer Services, said blasting and noise should not be a problem in the construction.
Across Monroe from Golden Rule, Diann Bennett of Antiques Northwest said this closure comes at a particularly tough time for independent business owners, even those that are destination shopping outlets. The bridge also was closed in 2003 and 2005, affecting businesses nearby.
“A few years ago, the economy wasn’t as bad, so people would find you,” Bennett said amid relics like a 1930s-era standup radio and a vintage Coca-Cola vending machine designed as an icebox. Access to the shop will be available off Post Street in the rear of the building, allowing customers to avoid the hassle of construction, Bennett said.
Relative newcomers to the area, including Coeur Coffeehouse, also felt jilted by the lack of notification. Nick Cherny, a barista at the coffee shop that opened about a year ago, said they received written notice last week that the bridge would be shutting down.
“It’s going to be pretty sucky,” Cherny said.
The work is part of a $1.6 million joint project between the city and Kendall Yards, announced in January, that will culminate in a system that would store and pump runoff to a planned park west of the development. The project is part of an effort to reduce pollution flowing into the Spokane River. Sidewalks along the bridge will also be closed, and bus routes will detour to Washington Street.
Clearwater Construction and Management is handling the installation. Company President Paul Clary said the project will require digging a hole that stretches from curb to curb across Monroe on the north side of the bridge, halting traffic in both directions. Happy said the span of West Bridge Avenue between Monroe and Post may also be affected.
On Wednesday, construction equipment sat at the opening to a large pit on the northwest side of the bridge that will house the underground tank. A chain-link fence restricted access to the Centennial Trail below, and a flashing sign on the north side of the bridge alerted commuters to the impending closure. The stormwater project is expected to be completed this summer.