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Businesses surprised by PSE work

Business owners along Railroad Avenue in Snoqualmie were surprised when Pilchuck Contractors workers and equipment took over the road in front of their shops recently to work on the installation of a gas main.

The business owners said they received no notice of the work, which Pilchuck is doing under a contract from Puget Sound Energy, and said they would have appreciated some forewarning.

Dorothy Bracken, a spokeswoman for Puget Sound Energy, said a mailing did go out a few months ago as part of the permitting process, but admits that PSE didn't do its part more recently to let those business owners know this work was imminent.

"The mailing did go out, but who would remember? That's the only way they'd know something was coming up," Bracken said. "Quite frankly, we acknowledge that we dropped the ball on that immediate notification."

At least two business owners said they noticed the work starting at the intersection of Snoqualmie Parkway and Railroad Avenue, but said they had no idea it would be continuing down the street.

Bracken said from what PSE workers have said, most people passing by the project when it started assumed it was just another small construction project.

Bracken said that PSE became aware of the oversight and employees have been going door to door as the project proceeds to advise business owners what to expect as the project passes in front of them.

Several business owners said they believe they lost money because they weren't aware of the project and could have saved on the cost of labor and supplies.

Shelley Cole, who opened the coffee shop Koko Beans recently, said she probably would have rescheduled her grand opening, which she held on Saturday, Jan. 21. Even though there was no work going on that day, Cole said the roads were still torn up and she thinks it affected attendance.

Cole said she has definitely lost money during the project.

"On Tuesday (Jan. 24) I didn't even bother to come in and open," she said. "Unless you were on foot, you couldn't get here."

Chris Coffing, owner of Isadora's, said she estimates she has lost $400 or $500. She said if she had known of the project, she may have even closed up for a few days and taken a trip somewhere.

Bracken said PSE is learning from what happened and making sure people who are farther along the project line are learning about it before it reaches them. She said she has talked to one business owner about a claim to be reimbursed for losses.

"It's on a case by case basis," she said.

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