Kent residents spoke, and city leaders listened to a planned closure of East James Street for road construction.
City officials will close the bottom of the James Street hill to all traffic for 20 days for a concrete pavement project, between Central Avenue North and Jason Avenue North, rather than a 60-day alternating lane closure. Crews will replace deteriorated asphalt pavement with concrete along a portion of East James Street.
Residents told city staff during a community meeting July 2 at the Kent Senior Activity Center that they prefer a complete shutdown. The street is one of the main commuter routes between the Kent Valley and the East Hill.
“Mayor (Dana) Ralph asked for a show of hands in favor and opposed to the proposal,” said Abdulnaser Almaroof, city engineering technician, in an email about the meeting. “All attendees voted for the full-road closure for 20 days with an additional 10 days of partial-road closures. There were no votes for the original partial closure option.”
About 40 people attended the meeting, Almaroof said. People also submitted emails and commented through social media.
“Mayor Ralph has verbally consented to the full closure,” Almaroof said.
City staff will prepare a change order to the contract with Kieweit and submit it for approval to the City Council’s Public Works Committee as well as the full council. If the council approves the contract at its July 17 meeting, work will start the weekend of July 21, Almaroof said.
City staff will release specific road closure dates and detours once details are finalized. Crews will detour most traffic to the Smith Street hill.
“The city heard you and is moving forward with the 20 day full-closure of East James Street,” according to the city of Kent Facebook page. “The 20 day full-closure option will save the city $200,000 dollars. Savings will be reinvested into future road improvement projects.”
Kieweit proposed the full closure in order to speed up the project. The council awarded the low bid on June 5 to Kiewit for $1.89 million, which is the contract that will be adjusted and voted on again with the new schedule. Funds from the city’s business and occupation tax will pay for the work.
Two years ago, crews installed new asphalt overlay on the upper part of the James Street hill. City leaders decided to use concrete at the bottom of the hill because of the problems with flooding in the area and it lasts much longer than asphalt.