Business owners react to underpass construction - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Business owners react to underpass construction

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PASCO, Wash. -- If you've driven under the Lewis Street underpass you know the aging narrow passage is deteriorating.  Plans are in the works to improve it, but that's going to cost some nearby businesses.

 A fan on the floor of the Llamas furniture store is the only sound in this store. The store is quiet, no customers. And construction on the Lewis street underpass is why.

Their customers don't want to drive thru construction and confusing detours, "I need a new location, new customers, my customers will need new addresses. I don't know, I don't know,it's terrible for my business, it's very, very low," explains Jose Llamas.

Business is so low that the current construction to shore up the underpass has dropped Jose's business by 85%. And plans to build an overpass will mean tearing down his business and others in a two block area.

Across the street, at Mas Car Audio, business is also down, and while Nick Gutierrez's store won't be torn down, that doesn't mean he won't feel the affects,"well, I know for sure that with the construction, once they start on it, we're going to drop in sales for sure, because they're going to go ahead and close from the first to the second street."

The city has talked about changes for years, now they are going after state and federal money to build an overpass with a total cost of $33 million dollars.

"We are in the process of purchasing or half purchasing on these properties that need to be demoed and the new structure has to be built because the road way alignment will be going north a little bit and continue to go back down and meet Oregon street," explains Ahmad Qayoumi, Public Works Director for the City of Pasco.

Despite uncertainty, business owners like Gutierrez are hopeful. "Once they're finished with the construction, don't know for sure, but hopefully we'll do a lot better."

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