PORTLAND, Ore. -- East county commuters, get ready for a major road closure.
A section of Stark Street between Troutdale Road and Corbeth Lane, about three-tenths of a mile, will close next week for nearly three months.
It's a closure many businesses along the highly traveled road are not happy about. So why do it?
According to Multnomah County, it's to help protect salmon.
Salmon use Beaver Creek, which runs beneath Stark Street, to migrate from the Sandy River to the Columbia and ultimately out to the Pacific Ocean.
But they have to pass through a culvert under Stark Street and fish ladder that were built back in the 1970s. The passage is far too small.
When the creek gets flowing, according to the county, salmon sometimes don't make it through.
"It's kind of pulverizing the fish at some times of the year, so it's really not doing its job," said Multnomah County spokesman Mike Pullen.
So on June 22, the county will shut down the stretch of Stark Street above the culvert in order to remove the fish ladder and build a new, deeper and more natural channel for the fish.
It's a big project that will take a big chunk of time.
"We do have a period here of some pain to get to some long term gain," said Pullen.
Nearby business owners are worried the closure will keep customers away.
"It seems like an insane amount of time to close a road for," said Kyle Chaney.
Chaney owns Coffee Quest, a drive-thru coffee shop near the intersection of Stark Street and Troutdale Road. He fears the detour will keep customers away from his shop and lead them to others.
"They're not going to go the long way around to come here… they'll go to different places," said Chaney.
Stayce Blume owns the Skyland Pub with her husband. She says the minimum wage increase in July coupled with the street closure will hurt business.
"If I don't have the business to support it, I may have to cut hours," she said.
Both Blume and Chaney support improving the fish passage. They said they don't want the fish to suffer, they just don't want their businesses to suffer either.
"I get it is has to be done, it's just not being down the right way," said Blume.
According to Multnomah County, the work done now will pay off in two years. That's when the county will start work to widen Stark Street to four lanes and add bike lanes and sidewalks.
With the larger culvert, the county said crews will be able to widen the road without having to close it.
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