George Washington Way Closure - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

George Washington Way Closure

RICHLAND, Wash. - The City of Richland plans to close the main artery into the city for three days, and several nearby businesses are bracing for a massive drop in customers.

Beginning Thursday night at 8 o'clock the City of Richland plans to close the intersection at George Washington Way and Columbia Point Drive.

It's the first intersection drivers will see coming off SR 240 onto the George Washington Way exit.

The city plans to close the intersection and 300 feet north of it to repave the road. It's the first phase in a summer long project. Eventually drivers will have three lanes of traffic coming both in and out of the city.

The city will leave one lane open so people coming from Pasco can still get to nearby businesses, but drivers from Kennewick or anywhere in Richland will have a huge detour ahead.

And with no straight shot for Kennewick or Richland residents, several Columbia Point business owners are afraid drivers won't take extra time.

"No one's going to really want to take the alternate route to come into this plaza," said Annie Kim, niece of Bento Teriyaki Grill owner.    

And other businesses like Fitness Together echo Kim's concerns.

"That'll be an excuse for them to not work out. I don't have to go there. It's too far. It's more time involved. I'll just skip this workout and wait till road construction is done," said Howard Hunt, Fitness Together.    

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mark the busiest days for Bento's. Owners worry if people can't drive by and see their sign they think they'll lose 50% of their business this weekend.

"We're only a month old and we get a lot of our revenue from people coming off the highway; they just see our sign and want to see what type of restaurant we are," said Kim.

So owners like Hunt are hoping a few well placed nudges will motivate people to wake up a little earlier and brave backed up traffic.

"We'll kind of reinforce the fact that if they stop their workout program they'll lose some ground in their fitness levels," said Hunt.    

With more construction planned throughout the summer, Columbia Point businesses may need to spend more time motivating customers.