KELSO, Wash. — Some business owners in Kelso are concerned that a road construction project may put them out of business.
The construction is part of the West Main realignment project that officials said is supposed to decrease con
gestion from Kelso to Longview and Interstate 5. However, the realignment means that traffic will no longer pass in front of about 20 businesses in the West Main district.
Johann Peters opened up his home theater and computer store in Kelso back in 2005 and fears he may lose business because of the West Main project.
“As a small business, we rely on that drive by traffic for them to be reinforced we are here,” said Peters.
Once the project is finished, traffic will be rerouted behind the businesses, and the owners said the back of the stores are not appealing and they want the city to help with façade improvements.
“When you are a single business owner, you don’t have that ability to just pull $40,000 to $50,000 out of your pocket and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to put a sign up, repaint the side of the back building (and) get some privacy fencing to help this city look like the city it is,” said Peters.
Two businesses have already closed because of the construction, including a dry cleaning shop that relocated.
Businesses owners also said the city didn’t give them enough of a warning about the upcoming construction.
Mike Kardas, Kelso’s city engineer, said the project is 14 years in the making and businesses were well aware of the planned improvements.
Kardas also said the city council has talked about possible facade improvements, but it is not a guarantee at this point.
Peters said he is hopeful that something could be worked out, but he knows time is money.
“To come out of this on top of a loss and go into another potential loss, it could put six to 15 businesses out of business. So we definitely want to work on that,” said Peters.