POULSBO — At the end of April, everything changes for businesses on the north end of Front Street. A constant state of construction and traffic disarray will occur until crews from Buno Construction wrap up 90 days of road and infrastructure improvement work and head back to Snohomish.
Even though the $1.37 million project will affect everything from traffic to tourism, the majority of entrepreneurs from Jensen Way north to Bond Road are fairly certain the long-term benefits will outweigh the short-term pains.
The extensive construction will include repairing the roadbed, improving and adding sidewalks, repaving, adding left-turn pockets at busy intersections, adding storm-drainage facilities and runoff treatment filters, installing larger water mains and increasing the number of fire hydrants.
Liberty Bay Auto Center will be taking the brunt of the blow on Front Street but even so, business manager Doug Haughton assured those needing cars and service that doing business there would still be “worth the drive.”
“Without a doubt the construction will have a negative impact on business,” Haughton said last week. “But, we’re definitely looking forward to the long-term improvements.”
Haughton said that any disruption to his business would be significant, but pointed out that the city has assured the long-time Poulsbo auto dealership that it would work to maximize motorists’ access to and from the corner lot.
“We’ll be alive and well. It’ll be business as usual,” he added. “The final product is going to be well worth the short-term frustration.”
But Haughton did admit that he had some concerns about the project as well. Where there’s hot weather and huge construction equipment there’s bound to be plenty of dust — something the dealership isn’t looking forward to at all.
“Dust will be a huge problem,” Haughton said, adding that Liberty Bay Auto already has its cars washed twice a week. “Clean cars sell better than dirty cars.”
Deb Moore, owner of Deb’s Picture Frame and Fine Art Gallery, said her planned move to Viking Avenue in May has nothing to do with the pending project and was certain the improvements would be for the best.
“Sept. 11 has done more damage than this road will do,” she remarked.
Even though “for sale” signs are beginning to pop up along the stretch, landlord and owner of the Lindvig Building, Bill Austin, said he wasn’t too worried about the short-term impacts of the construction.
“It’s about time,” he said. “This is something I have no concerns about.”
When asked if he had heard any anxieties from his tenants, Austin responded, “No, everyone’s been too darn busy to worry about this. I suppose that when the construction starts people will start grumbling, though.”
In the meantime, Poulsbo is taking pains to make sure these grumbles are kept to a minimum.
City Engineer John Stephenson said Buno workers will start with storm drain and water line construction, then do curbs, gutters and sidewalks before final paving begins.
“I think we can address business owners’ concerns like we did up on Viking Avenue,” Stephenson said, noting that during the 2000 widening project the city received only one complaint. “Our goal is to have no complaints.”
In hopes of attaining this objective, the city contacted each landlord within the project limits and also made special provisions that will provide safe access to the businesses during the project.
The city is hosting an open house on the Front Street project at the Poulsbo Library on Lincoln Road on Tuesday, April 16 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room.
“That would be the time that anyone can express their concerns and have their questions answered,” Stephenson said.