Pacific Avenue overpass to open

By Kate Reardon

Herald Writer

EVERETT — Lewis Gentry can’t wait until Wednesday.

That’s when the public will again have direct access to his barbecue restaurant with the opening of the $15.3 million Pacific Avenue overpass adjacent to Everett Station.

Everett Station is the new transportation hub east of Broadway that is expected to open Jan. 31.

The new bridge will open to traffic at 4 p.m. Wednesday, following a dedication ceremony at 1p.m.

Gentry started feeling the pain of losing business at his Brick House barbecue restaurant at 2703 Pacific Ave. when construction of the bridge began in October 2000. As a result, what used to be $600 in lunch sales for Gentry quickly declined, a drop-off that has lasted throughout the past year, he said. On Friday, Gentry said his lunchtime business brought in a mere $80.

Now he has high hopes for Wednesday.

"I’m hoping and praying to God this will increase the traffic here and increase my revenue," Gentry said.

The concrete overpass has four lanes, plus walkways for bicyclists and pedestrians, said Donna Ambrose, governmental affairs and informational manager with the city of Everett’s transportation services.

The pale green bridge will have red light poles and galvanized silver fencing. The artistic elements were designed by Elizabeth Conner and Everett resident Reg Akright.

"It has a retro feel, and it’s designed to enhance the Everett Station area," Ambrose said. "Building these types of structures go a long way in helping create efficiencies in public transportation."

While the bridge opens Wednesday, a turnoff to Lowe’s Hardware won’t open until just before Thanksgiving, and another turnoff to Smith Avenue won’t open until early next year.

The bridge was a cooperative effort between the city and Sound Transit. The transit agency used tax money to pay for the bridge, and the city oversaw construction. Voters approved a measure in 1996 that included the bridge concept, said Agnes Govern, director of the Sound Transit’s Regional Express department.

Sound Transit budgeted $20 million for the bridge, but the entire project came in about $4.7 million under budget, she said. That money will now go to Sound Transit’s portion of work at Everett Station, where the agency has learned early financial estimates were too low, she said.

The bridge is one of Sound Transit’s community connection projects to create convenient and safe access for drivers and pedestrians. The bridge spans Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks.

Gentry hopes the new bridge will mean better business.

Looking back, he wished the city could have helped him through the hard times while the bridge was being built by reducing his business and occupation tax or by giving him a break on his property taxes.

"I invested my life savings and got my little restaurant, got it going, and then they built the bridge," he said. "It’s going to take time to rebuild."

The other night, Gentry said positive thoughts hit him while he watched television the evening after construction crews finished paving the bridge.

"For the first time in a year and a half, I was actually looking forward to the next day … that it was finally coming to be."

You can call Herald Writer Kate Reardon at 425-339-3455

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