Drivers who use the popular James Street hill commute route will need to find an alternate course the next few weeks.
The city of Kent and contractor Kiewit will close East James Street between Central Avenue North and Jason Avenue for 20 consecutive days starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday, July 21. Crews will replace the deteriorating asphalt surface with longer-lasting concrete. It’s local access only west of 94th Avenue. There will be no public access to James Street from Central.
“This isn’t going to be easy for anyone, but when it’s over, the East James Street project will finally be complete, and the new concrete road will last for decades,” Mayor Dana Ralph said in a media release.
Crews expect to reopen the street the evening of Thursday, Aug. 9.
“Crews will work seven days a week, up to 12 hours per day in order to complete work as quickly as possible,” said Jason Barry, City Public Works capital projects manager, in an email.
Major concrete roadway improvements are scheduled to be completed by Aug. 9, but intermittent lane restrictions will be necessary periodically for another 10 days or so to finish miscellaneous, smaller items of work such as striping.
City officials awarded the original contract to allow for 60 days of construction under one-lane of traffic in each direction. The community agreed at a public meeting and on social media to allow this limited time, full-road closure to effectively cut project duration in half and save the city about $200,000.
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. Funds from the city’s business and occupation tax will pay for the work.
Drivers are asked to consider using the South 277th Street corridor on the south end of town and South 212th Street on the north end to avoid increased volumes on Smith/Canyon/Kent-Kangley, just south of James Street.
The farther east and west from the closure traffic can divert will go a long way to benefit those in the immediate area, Barry said.
“We understand not everybody has the ability to adjust, but those able to plan ahead can greatly contribute to overall efficiencies,” he said.
Westbound traffic will be diverted at James and 94th Avenue to Canyon with local access only beyond 94th. Eastbound traffic on James will be diverted at James and Central over to Smith Street.