Repaving work will close Keene Road starting today

West Richland enjoyed a respite from Keene Road repairs during most of July.

Today, drivers must return to alternate routes as workers prepare to repave the road.

“I know it’s been inconvenient this summer; Keene is our main east-west road,” said Public Works Director Roscoe Slade III.

Earlier this summer, portions of Keene Road were closed to traffic for utility work. Monday through Aug. 24, workers from Granite Northwest will be grinding parts of the street then repave the three-mile stretch of road.

“There will also be some guard rail work,” Slade said.

The entire length of Keene Road — from Van Giesen Street to Bombing Range Road — will be closed to vehicles. The pedestrian/bike pathway along Keene Road will remain open.

Slade and his staff reviewed options to reduce the impact on drivers. One option was to use flaggers and cones, but that would lead to Keene traffic sitting in traffic two or three times, he said.

“Doing just portions of the road would also extend the duration of the project,” Slade said. “We decided this was the best alternative because it would shorten the construction period. The contractor is on a tight schedule — only 20 days. Typically, we’d give them twice as many days.”

The goal is to have the road reopened by Aug. 28, the first day of school.

“With the elementary and middle schools right there, the bus drivers are going to need to use Keene,” he said.

For the most part, people have been patient with the road closures this summer, but there have been exceptions, he said.

“There were a handful of drivers who decided the signs and cones didn’t apply to them and actually moved them,” Slade said. “That made it dangerous for the workers because they’re not expecting cars to be going through there. And it was dangerous for the drivers coming behind these people because they didn’t realize the signs had been moved and there were open trenches and heavy equipment in the roadway.”

Those who move or ignore the construction signs risks a $124 citation.

“There will be police enforcement,” Slade said.

Message boards advising drivers of detour routes were set out along Keene Road on Wednesday. Updates and detour routes also are available at www.westrichland.org.

The project is estimated to cost $1 million. Federal grants through the Urban Surface Transportation program will pay for $779,000. West Richland will fill the gap with money from the real estate excise tax.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com