SPOKANE, Wash – Two separate construction projects have come together near Francis & Market in northeast Spokane, creating an unfortunate headache for residents and business owners.
As Washington State Department of Transportation construction on the North-South Corridor progresses in the area, Francis was being used as an east-west detour. However, when the City of Spokane began a repaving project on Francis from Haven east to Crestline on March 25th, a new state detour had to be made.
As a result, local residents and business owners say two separate problems have arisen. First, businesses on the corner of Francis & Market are blocked from traffic, and they say their bottom line has been affected.
"We've seen our business drop as much as 40% on average, and we've had some days it's been down as much as 60-70%," said Jeff Toole, the owner of Tobacco, Beer & More. "I hope I'm still open in a month to be quite honest with you."
His neighboring business owner agrees:
"My business is down 20-30% since it started," added MJ Halverson, the owner of Hillyard Dollar Depot.
A City of Spokane spokesperson told KHQ the problem really is the result of the two projects together, and "clearly this could have been coordinated better." The city is doing what it can to mitigate the effects, including putting up signs directing customers to those specific businesses, and the business owners agree it is helping.
But there's another problem just a block away.
Judy Crockett says because the traffic is reduced to one-lane in each direction on Market going north-south, and with Francis closed east-west, the next available major through streets are several blocks away.
That means drivers are using her small residential street of Houston as a detour, but the road is only two blocks long, and she says enough is enough.
"It's extremely frustrating," Crockett tells KHQ. "There's lots of traffic, hundreds of cars, I could sit and count and I wouldn't be exaggerating one bit."
She says cars, trucks, construction rigs – even semi trucks – are now cruising down her street, often speeding, and at all hours of the day and night.
"They get in here and they get lost, they don't know where they're going," she added. "People who've lived in this area know these roads don't go through, so you have to back track to get to another road to get to another road, it's awful."
On top of that, the narrow residential road isn't wide enough for two cars to pass each other, so many drivers are going into the dirt or yards to try and get through, and Crockett wants a change.
"All of us knew that this was going to happen, that the construction was going to take place," she said, "But I don't think anybody even fathomed that it was going to have that kind of impact on our residential area."