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101 headaches: Road construction hampering sales, business owners say

Road construction continues on US Hwy 101 near Dryke Road Tuesday afternoon. - Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell
Road construction continues on US Hwy 101 near Dryke Road Tuesday afternoon.
— image credit: Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

Since Monday morning Dryke Road has been closed where it intersects U.S. Hwy 101 for continued construction to widen the stretch of highway between Sequim and Port Angeles.

Although the Washington State Department of Transportation officials intend to have the road open by early evening Friday, the impacts of the road’s closure is taking its toll on the surrounding local businesses.

Some of the businesses around Dryke Road feeling the effects of the closure include Olympic Restaurant Equipment, Christian Carpenter Auto Center, Frankfurth Auto Body and

and Towing and Cedar Lane Farm Nursery.

“Business has been down 70 percent in the show room for the past seven months,” Eric Schwartz, president of Olympic Restaurant Equipment, said. “My biggest issue is being told one thing and then they’re (Washington State Department of Transportation) doing another.”

Schwartz has eight employees to think about and has had to adjust some of those employees from their normal responsibilities of staffing the show room to other tasks because of the lack of customers coming in, Schwartz said. Schwartz finds himself seeking alternative and creative online business strategies and other avenues to help combat the impacts the road construction has had on business. For example, while Dryke Road is closed, Schwartz is offering free delivery to Kitsap, Clallam and Jefferson counties, in addition to a storewide sale through the end of next week.

“I think we only had one customer in here Monday,” Schwartz said. “I am trying to do everything I can.”

Although Schwartz understands the state and project contractor, Scarsella Bros. Inc., are working as fast as possible and are managing a lot, he also feels the accessibility to his business is being impacted beyond what Washington State Department of Transportation officials implied.

“Placing a sign that says’road closed to thru traffic’ at the beginning of the alternate route is misleading,” Schwartz said.

Approaching Olympic Restaurant Equipment there are bright orange, eye-catching signs stating Dryke Road is closed and to use an “alternate route,” but no direction or detour signs follow as to where the alternate route is or how to get there.

Upon further inspection and inquiry on how to get to Dryke Road from Sequim, employees at Olympic Restaurant explained one must take Old Olympic Highway to Vautier Road to Pinnell Road to Solmar Road and finally to Dryke Road.

“I realize unless you’re a local you’ll probably have a hard time navigating the alternate routes,” Jerry Moore, project engineer for Washington State Department of Transportation, said. “Could the situation at Dryke Road be better? Yes. The work at this intersection impacts these businesses the most.”

By the time Moore realized the lack of signage to alternative routes, it was really “too late” to get signs placed, Moore said. To access signs or get signs made would take time, not to mention the time it would take to implement signs along roads where there is little shoulder room. Before digging and placing signs, the area must be surveyed for important infrastructure such as phone lines, and by the time all the needed steps were met the construction on Dryke Road would be over, Moore said.

“Now all we can do is work as fast as possible,” Moore said. “I realize this is a really bad week for those businesses.”

But, Moore pointed out that the good news is the Washington State Department of Transportation hopes to switch traffic over to the newly constructed portion of the highway soon and the public will have direct access into the businesses again.

Schwartz is not alone in his frustrations with the ongoing road construction.

“We just want it to be over so we can go back to normal,” Nathan Church, manager of Frankfurth Auto Body and Towing, said.

Shawnra Cash has felt an economic impact on her business, Cedar Lane Farm Nursery. Luckily Cash has fairly low overhead because it is just her running the nursery, which is only open on the weekends.

“It (road construction) has been a huge problem,” Leslie Carpenter, owner of Christian Carpenter Auto Center, said. “And although we’re all very concerned about it and it has hurt our business at some point it will be over.”

Carpenter feels there’s a genuine effort being put forth by the construction workers and tries to be understanding, but agrees with fellow business owners that “they could have had alternative routes much better marked,” Carpenter said.

With time not on his side, and the road construction on Dryke Road well under way, Moore has asked Scarsella to hopefully get enough crushed gravel on the road to allow limited access onto Dryke Road by Thursday. If all goes according to schedule the asphalt will be done by Thursday as well.

Reach Alana Linderoth at alinderoth@sequimgazette.com.

 

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