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Construction Ahead

Construction Ahead

by Mary Clymer on May 19, 2020

Construction Ahead

Expect Delays Through Downtown Renton

One of the things I love about our downtown is all the history. The older buildings that have seen businesses come and go from inside their walls. The charm that showcases just how long we’ve been here. 

The one-way streets have been a standard in our downtown for many years, but it hasn't always been that way. And now we are seeing the return of two-way streets in our downtown core. 

This is an effort the City started a couple of years back when Main Ave made the switch from one to two ways.

If you spend any time downtown, you’ll know that a driver headed full steam ahead in the wrong direction is an everyday occurrence. This makes for more confusion to the driver and, like it or not, it makes us feel like an unfriendly neighborhood to the outsider. Something the City is looking to improve on.

Over the next 18 months, we will see two major projects take over the streets of our downtown core. Here I will lay out some basics for you about the projects. The biggest revitalization project Ron Straka, Utility Systems Director, has ever seen in his 30 years with the City.


Wells Ave S. and Williams Ave S. Conversion Project

Utility work has already begun the conversion of these one-way streets. The city is preparing to rebuild four intersections later this summer and the project is expected to continue into next year. 


The City is working with local business owners and residents to ensure there is access to their buildings during this time. working first on S. 3rd St and moving to S. 2nd St., always keeping at least one lane open for traffic. 


The new intersections will follow the design and feel of the S. 2nd and Main intersection. Improving mobility and safety for all modes of travel. 

Features of the new intersections include;

  • raised intersections with bulb-outs

  • lighting

  • street furniture

  • streetscape

  • bike racks

  • signage

  • wayfinding 


As the intersections build, starting with the sidewalks, the city will have signage up to help direct pedestrians to where it is safe to walk. Always maintaining a passage as they move from corner to corner. Once complete they will move to redo the middle of the intersection. Slightly raised to help slow traffic through these areas making it more pedestrian-friendly.


The hope, in line with the downtown civic core action plan adopted by the city in 2018, is to encourage new economic development opportunities. Keith Woolley, Civil Engineer for the city and lead contact for this project, said:

“The idea is to get people to downtown, not through downtown.”


With all the construction on the way, it certainly will take the through traffic that travels down S. 3rd St. and begin to direct it over to Grady Way. Hopefully easing the congestion long term. 

With all these improvements comes needed maintenance as well. Starting this month the city will start upgrading the water drainage systems through downtown. Starting first on S. 3rd St. and then continuing up S. 2nd St.


As the City is doing its part to get the word out, it is important to understand that they are working with Governor Inslee COVID19 safety measures as a priority. Keeping the community both healthy and informed.


What to Expect During Construction

  •  Typical work hours: Weekdays from 7 AM - 5 PM with occasional noise, dust, and vibration.

  • Temporary single-lane closures: Traffic will periodically be reduced to a single lane on S 3rd St and S 2nd St as crews upgrade the utilities. Please plan ahead for delays.

  • Minor parking restrictions: There may be some on-street parking restrictions near work zones; please follow directions on “No Parking” signs.

  • Pedestrian detours

  • Temporary utility impacts: Service interruptions will be minor; utility providers will notify properties in advance of any temporary service disruptions that will impact them


Downtown Utility Improvement Project


Water, Sewer, and Stormwater utilities are all getting an upgrade. As mentioned above, Many of the underground pipes are overdue for an upgrade or remain in poor condition with costly maintenance requirements.

These improvements will address large issues needing attention in our beloved downtown. Improvements that will add approximately 5,600 LF of new stormwater pipes, 8,000LF of new cure-in-place sanitary sewer pipes, and 3,300LF of new water lines along the following streets:

  • South Second Street

  • South Third Street

  • Mill Avenue South

  • Morris Avenue South

  • Whitworth Avenue South 

  • Shattuck Avenue South


I encourage you to visit the Renton Downtown Utility Improvement project map to see the utility pipe layout of the project. 

After this major project is done you will see new curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and ramps in affected areas. 

There may be times of temporary disruption of water services during construction. It will be minor, but necessary. Utility providers will notify properties in advance.

The projects are underway and are currently being designed with the contractor. This phase should begin late summer to early fall of this year, 2020.

This project will move street by street and will continue for roughly 12-18 months

The streetscape improvements will continue to be done in phases throughout our downtown as future funding is secured. This series of improvements might come as a temporary hardship in a time where businesses are already struggling to open their doors. But the long term effects will benefit these businesses and our downtown in the long run. 

In a summer where all city events are being canceled, and the streets of S. 3rd St. won’t be graced with the usual crowds of the Renton River Day Parade or the Return to Renton Car Show, this might actually be the best time for these projects to proceed. By the Summer of 2021, we will all walk the streets with newfound pride for improvements to the heart of our city. 


There is a pre-construction survey I encourage you to check out as well as voicing your concerns. Please sign up for their mailing list too. Without the ability to present the public an open house, because of current restrictions, the City’s Utility Department is hosting zoom meetings to inform and discuss concerns. I attended one earlier this month and was impressed with how well they managed and addressed everyone’s needs. 


Get involved, stay informed, and be part of the new reality where your opinion matters. 


Questions about construction?

Check out more information at

Downtown Utility Improvement Project: rentonwa.gov/DUIP

Call 425-430-7230 or email duip@rentonwa.gov


Wells -Williams Conversion Project: Visit www.rentonwa.gov/ww 

Call 425-363-1007 or email wellswilliams@rentonwa.gov

·         Visit whyrenton.com

·         Call the small business hotline at 206-503-1742

·         Email thrive@rentonwa.gov

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