MARYSVILLE — City officials are jubilant that the State Avenue improvement project is two months ahead of schedule.
Project manager Dave Lervik learned Thursday that the third phase of the 10-month, $6.4 million project that began in October will close State Avenue between First and Fourth streets completely beginning April 5.
That’s good news for the city but bad news for businesses on the south end of the project.
"We’re not happy about it," said Calvin Meadows, manager of Big O Tires at 70 State Ave., just south of the construction zone.
"Our big push for pulling studs off starts April 1, and here in one of our busiest seasons, we’re going to have problems," Meadows said. "I believe the loyal customers will still come to us, but the new customers that you experience every month, if it’s not easily accessible, they’re going to go in a different direction."
His business already has dropped about 20 percent since the State Avenue project began, due to part of the project blocking all lanes four blocks away, he said.
"We’re just coming out of our really slow season and coming into our busy season, and now we have this road closure just as business is starting to pick up a little," Meadows said. "That’s just going to be devastating to the businesses at this end of our town. Our only entrance is off State."
The businesses north of First Street have access on side streets or alleys, but those to the south do not.
Two lanes of the portion that now is closed, between Fourth and Eighth streets, will open April 5, giving motorists and shoppers access once again, Lervik said. The road is mostly paved now, but work crews still have to raise sewer utility access covers, install sidewalks and finish other work before the first two phases open completely.
The intersection of State Avenue and Fourth Street will remain open throughout the final phase except for a few days, probably near the end of the project, when work on the intersection itself will be done, Lervik said. Crews will do most of that work at night so residents can still commute from the east side of town to I-5 and Highway 529.
City officials hope to keep the First and State intersection open as long as possible. When the road does close, traffic headed for Highway 529 will be detoured around the project on Cedar Avenue to the west and cut across property just beyond the intersection that soon will become the city’s waterfront park on Ebey Slough, Lervik said.
"People are going to quickly learn it’s not the best way to get around," he said.
The latest advance in the schedule caught him by surprise, because he was telling businesses just a couple of days ago that the last phase would begin in May instead of June, he said. It was supposed to be completed by the end of August, but now may be finished much sooner.
"The sooner the better," Lervik said
Reporter Cathy Logg: 425-339-3437 or email@example.com.