Yakima Valley Drivers Dreading 16th Avenue Closure - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima Valley Drivers Dreading 16th Avenue Closure

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YAKIMA, Wash. -- A portion of 16th Avenue is going to be closed for most of the summer, but today Union Gap hit yet another snag in the latest phase of the Valley Mall Boulevard expansion.

It's a bridge over a creek that's causing the problems. Contractors for the city are waiting on permits from the Department Of Ecology that will give them the okay to demolish it and proceed with their plans.

For driver's it's just delaying the inevitable.

"I'm traveling this road a lot. At least two or three times a day at least," said Billie Child.

Billie Child has been watching the signs for weeks now warning her that 16th Avenue will be closed from Washington to Ahtanum Road for most of the summer. This morning however Union Gap Public Works was hauling the signs away, which gave brief hope to drivers that the road may remain open after all.

Child says, "I need this road. A lot of us need this road."

This news isn't good for businesses along 16th Avenue either. The Airport Salon gets most of their customers from drivers just passing by. They say not having the daily traffic will have a huge impact on them.

"A lot of people see our signs and stop in, but if they have to be re-routed then they won't know that won't know that we're here," said stylist, Penny Westerfield.

The road closure is part of phase three of the Valley Mall Boulevard extension project. The new road will meet 16th Avenue at the bridge in question. The bridge must be replaced to finish the project.

Union Gap Mayor Jim Lemon says the payoff will come when the road is complete.

The mayor said, "The short-term may be an inconvenience, but the long term benefit will outweigh this short-term inconvenience for the few people."

Workers at the Airport Salon agree and say the new road is going to bring them a lot more business.

"We're just going to have to wait and see how it turns out, but I think it's going to be good once it's done though," said Westerfield.

Union Gap Public Works say they hope to have the permits and construction underway by next week. When that happens drivers will have to either detour to the west on 64th Avenue or to the east on 3rd Avenue.

As for businesses, they will be accessible during construction.