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Bellevue residents brace for I-405 closures
Community prepares for closure of I-405 lanes
The August closures of southbound I-405 in downtown Bellevue have many commuters opting to stay home rather than brave the anticipated traffic congestion. As the WSDOT begins the demolition of the Wilburton Tunnel beginning this coming weekend, all area freeways are expected to see an increase in traffic congestion. For the unavoidable trek across town, commuters are brainstorming creative ways to get from point A to point B.
Take Greenbaum Home Furnishings for instance, a family-owned store that has called Bellevue home for nearly 50 years. The retail business is located near the Wilburton Tunnel on 118th Avenue just west of I-405.
The owners worried that the August closures could discourage customers from wanting to battle the traffic, potentially putting a damper on sales for the month.
Instead of closing shop, Greenbaum owners came up with a few solutions. First, they moved the time of their annual “Tent Sale” to July instead of August. Then, to help promote sales during August despite the construction, the owners have decided to hold an additional “Crunch Time” sale throughout the month. The promotion will pay for the sales tax on any purchase through Labor Day weekend.
“We wanted to hold this promotion because we want to be there for our customers,” explained Jon Greenbaum, co-owner and advertising manager. “We understand the inconvenience of the road work and the trying economic time.”
In addition, the city of Bellevue has given the store permission to post extra signage along detour routes alerting customers that the store will remain open for business.
“Hopefully it (I-405 improvements) will be a long term solution that makes it more convenient for our customers to reach our store,” Greenbaum said. “We’re optimistic about the changes that the WSDOT are making.”
Across town, Rena Shin and Mark Han have found themselves in a little bit of a bind. The couple have been planning their wedding day for more than seven months with no way of anticipating the upcoming construction closures. The couple will say their vows on Saturday, Aug. 23 in front of 200 guests near downtown Bellevue and the closure could pose a slight problem.
“I was a little worried when I first learned about the closure because we have several guests from out of town coming and they don’t know their way around,” Shin explained. “The wedding doesn’t begin until late afternoon so with a little planning ahead, our guests should be just fine.”
To help their guests plan alternative travel routes in and out of Bellevue, the couple posted links to detour information on their wedding Web site. They also took the initiative to send e-mails out to all of their guests two weeks before their wedding reminding them to be aware of added delays.
The WSDOT highly recommends that over the course of the three closure weekends in August, folks stay close to home and travel only when necessary. A Web resource has been posted to help drivers plan their trips and avoid backups during closures. The transportation department encourages drivers to visit: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/i405/112thAvetoSE8th/wilburton.htm.
Lindsay Larin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 425-453-4602.