SR-14 businesses show strength in numbers

Westlie Ford co-owner offers to provide space for merchants’ signage

A volunteer assists a customer with a purchase at the Inter-Faith Treasure House thrift store, in Washougal. Executive Director Nancy Wilson (not pictured) said business at the thrift store has decreased 50 percent since the work to widen State Route 14 started.

Westlie Ford co-owner offers to provide space for merchants’ signage

Mitch Hammontree, owner of Quiznos in Washougal, does not mince words when he says the condition of the 200 block of “C” Street in front of his business in The Crossing development, “looks like Afghanistan.”

He recently experienced the bumpy roadway ride, as well as delays enforced by flaggers, when he delivered sandwich orders to the Georgia Pacific mill in downtown Camas.

Hammontree has been a vocal opponent of a dirt berm located between the highway and his business for nearly two years.

“The level of frustration is very high,” he said. “The [Washington State] Department of Transportation says it’s temporary. The height of the dirt berm is blocking the detour. Nobody can see us.

“The only thing that is truly temporary is what you put on your tooth before a crown,” Hammontree added.

He was among the merchants who attended a meeting with other business owners and representatives from the Port of Camas-Washougal, WSDOT, Washougal, Camas and the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce, Wednesday, at the Best Western Parkersville Inn & Suites.

Hammontree said he observed “a million” motorcycles and other vehicles traveling east toward the Columbia River Gorge during the warm weather weekend of April 21 and 22. On that Saturday, the local Quiznos had 50 customers (compared to a previous average of 100). On Sunday, there were 28 customers (compared to a previous average of 78 to 100).

“During the last few months, our sales have been half of what we’ve done before,” Hammontree said.

Nancy Wilson, executive director of the Inter-Faith Treasure House, said business at the Treasure House thrift store has decreased 50 percent since the work to widen State Route 14 started.

Traffic has been shifted to a new southern frontage road while crews reconstruct the highway between the east Camas Slough Bridge and Second Street. The route takes drivers through two roundabouts at Union and Second streets.

“We use the revenue from the store to pay our overhead costs and purchase food,” Wilson said. “We are feeding over 2,000 community members a month with all our different food programs. How can we continue to do this with revenue down? I’m not sure.”

Randy Dickerson, co-owner of Westlie Ford, said he would allow signage from the traffic-affected businesses to be placed on his property east of the dealership.

Meanwhile, Chris Tams, Columbia Gorge area engineer for WSDOT, said 55,000 tons of asphalt will be poured as part of the SR-14 project in a few months.

“There will be a lot of paving this summer,” he said.

That project is scheduled for completion later this year or early next year, according to Abbi Russell, communications manager for the WSDOT Southwest Region.

For more information, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR14/CamasWashougal.