Patience, Kennewick drivers.
It may not look like it, but the North Edison Street widening project is nearing an end.
The contractor, Granite Construction Co., spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights grinding off old asphalt between West Clearwater Avenue and West Canal Drive. Next week, crews will repave the entire stretch, giving drivers a glimpse of what the final project will look like.
The $3 million widening effort is Kennewick’s largest road project of the 2016 summer construction season. Now in its sixth month, the project has disrupted traffic with uneven driving surfaces, backups and other headaches, frustrating drivers, merchants and residents.
Evelyn Lusignan, the city’s spokeswoman, said Granite is on track to complete its work by the end of August. Work began in February.
The result will be a wider road with bike lanes, curbs, gutters and related improvements as it passes by Kamiakin High School.
The Benton County Public Utility District worked with the city to bury utility lines. Traffic lights at Canal and Clearwater will be adapted to the new road as well.
The upgrades were prioritized in Kennewick’s six-year transportation improvement plan, which notes that Edison is one of the busiest arteries, carrying commuter traffic to the highway.
“We understand everybody is ready for this to be done,” Lusignan said. “They’re going to be pleased with the results.”
We understand everybody is ready for this to be done. They’re going to be pleased with the results.
Evelyn Lusignan, city of Kennewick
The end can’t come soon enough, said Deanna Madrigal, manager of Baum’s Chocolates and Gourmet Popcorn, which opened on Edison Street in December, and the adjoining party supply store, Let’s Party, which has been in business on Edison for 14 years.
Business dropped noticeably during construction, Madrigal said. News reports advising drivers to seek alternative routes is partly to blame, along with the uneven driving surfaces that deterred some potential customers from pulling into the parking lot.
Overall, however, Madrigal is grateful to Granite for its sensitivity to businesses along Edison.
“The construction company is trying hard to keep the entrances and exits open all the time,” she said.
Still, with the party store’s busiest season — Halloween — just two months away, she’s eager to see the road back in full operation.
The project was partially funded with a $1.2 million grant from the Washington Transportation Improvement Board and a $900,000 grant from the federal Surface Transportation Program.
Construction accounted for about $2.3 million of the total budget. The city spent $300,000 to purchase rights of way and the balance was for design.