SPOKANE, Wash. - Plans to revitalize a major Spokane road are moving forward as the city puts together designs for the future North Monroe.
The 1.1 mile long project will run from just north of Indiana to Kiernan, near the top of the Garland hill.
The project is moving forward despite lingering concerns from many business owners.
When Gina Campbell opened her business, 1889 Salvage Co., in September, she purposely chose a spot on North Monroe.
“This building, frankly, has great windows. This space became available and North Monroe is known for its vintage stores,” she said.
But just seven months later, Campbell is bracing for a major construction project.
“I'm looking forward to the improvements that the construction project will bring,” she said.
While the end result is intended to boost business, slow traffic, and make the area more pedestrian friendly, it's the so-called “road diet” that has business owners worried.
“I think all the businesses here are thinking, 'how are we going to get through this,' and 'how are we going to keep people coming to this area during the construction,'” Campbell said.
North Monroe sees as many as 17,000 cars every day. Plans to reduce the road from five lanes to just three lanes should help accommodate that traffic, but it's a big undertaking some business owners don't think they can overcome.
“There are going to be a lot of businesses that are not going to make it through the construction phase,” Skippers Restaurant owner Gary Jarvis said during an interview last year.
“To reduce that main corridor capacity by half during peak times, and it's at least that, just doesn't seem to make sense,” Patrick Keegan, owner of Aloha Island Grill, at an open house earlier this year.
The city has spent months getting feedback. Citywide, 65 percent of residents gave their approval. But just 50 percent of nearby property owners support the project. The results are even more dismal among business owners, with just 32 percent supporting the plan.
Despite concerns, the city is moving into the design phase of the project and businesses are preparing for the construction migraine set to kick in next year.
The city hopes to have designs for the project completed by the end of this year with construction scheduled to start in 2018. They won't know how long it will take, though, until those designs are done.