TUKWILA, Wash. - On Southcenter Parkway businesses are open, but sales are slow, according to some store managers. They blame the slump on construction. Two major road projects, the Southcenter Parkway Extension and the Southcenter Access Project, are underway right now.
"The traffic has slowed down, and sales have decreased 40 to 49 percent," said Lamps Plus manager Julie Frisbee. "If the sales aren't there, then I have to cut back immediately because otherwise we are not making enough to run the store."
In the same shopping center, Pacific Furniture Gallery is also struggling, according to manager Jeff Boone.
"Could these projects have been separated, could they have discontinued one project to finish another one, and could they have done anything to better advertise to the public that businesses are still open," asked Boone.
Derek Speck, Tukwila's Economic Development Administrator, said the projects need to happen now because the federal funds supporting the projects come with a deadline. Speck said the city held press conferences, posted information on its website, and put up signs to let people know businesses are open.
The complaints from businesses include the time it takes to get around the road projects. It can take drivers more than an hour to navigate around the construction on a Saturday, according to Boone. Boone is also upset because he does not think the city did enough to study traffic flow and the impact of these projects.
The Southcenter Parkway Extension aims to extend the parkway from South 180th to South 200th by building a new road and installing new utilities.
The Southcenter Access Project is rebuilding Southcenter Parkway between Strander Boulevard and Tukwila Parkway, including the intersection with Klickitat Drive.
Once both projects are done, the city expects traffic flow to improve. There could be construction near Southcenter for several more months.
The city offered the construction company a financial incentive of $250,000 to finish the Southcenter Access Project by November.
After hearing concerns from businesses that construction could interfere with holiday sales, the city offered the construction company an additional $500,000 incentive to complete all the work by September.
According to the city, if drivers properly follow the detours, it will help reduce traffic congestion.
To learn more about how to get around the closures, go to the City of Tukwila website.