It’s said that there are only two seasons in Montana – winter and road construction season. Guess which one we’re in right now? You got it. State and local highway crews are already out in force throughout northwestern Montana, including right here in Whitefish.
Work has begun on the next phase of the U.S. Highway 93 West road widening and improvement project, which extends from just west of the Second Street/Baker Avenue intersection – in the heart of downtown Whitefish – all the way to Karrow Avenue.
When it’s complete, the western gateway to Whitefish will look far different, with wider traffic lanes and shoulders, a continuous center turn lane, a new Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Whitefish River, as well as bike lanes and a pedestrian walkway.
Until then, well, it’s a mess, and dozens of local businesses are feeling the pinch. With on-street parking eliminated on Second Street, and access to side streets subject to periodic closures, it’s tempting to avoid the area altogether and do business elsewhere.
These folks need your business now more than ever. The shoulder season is already slow, and when you add to that the virtual elimination of “drive-by” patrons – as well as folks who assume that it’s simply too much of a hassle to get there – you’ve got a sure-fire recipe for entrepreneurial disaster.
In reality, the “mess” isn’t as bad as it appears at first glance. I drive through the construction zone four to five times a day, and have never been delayed longer than five minutes and usually it’s more like 90 seconds.
There’s plenty of parking in the city parking lots at Second/Spokane and Third/Central (both just a three-block walk from Loula’s, Quickees and Second Street Pizza), and there’s on-street parking in the Railroad District and south of Second Street, though it can be hit and miss.
Your best bet might be the lot behind the Glacier Bank branch at Second and Baker. Bank president Lin Akey says customers are welcome to use the lot when frequenting Mambo’s, Swift Creek Café and any of the other restaurants, shops and offices impacted by the Second Street construction.
Fish cleaning a big success!
Kudos – and a great big “thank you!” to the scores of local residents who turned out April 20 for “Clean the Fish,” our town’s annual effort to spiff things up before the summer tourist season.
Hundreds of bags of roadside litter, road kill and unsecured loads were collected from the highways and byways of Whitefish on what turned out to be a spectacular spring morning and the end result was just as spectacular.
Just one more reason why Whitefish is such a great place to live, work, play and do business.
Gallery Nights this Thursday
Now that the town is all buffed-up and ready to shine, we’re ready to show it off a bit! Whitefish Gallery Nights does exactly that the first Thursday of each month, as galleries and shops throughout downtown Whitefish open their doors and throw out the red carpet.
Join us for the first of 2013’s great Gallery Nights – Thursday, May 2 from 6-9 p.m. For more information, call the Chamber at 862-3501.
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