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Asphalt returns to Oak Harbor's Pioneer Way

Al and Kathy Collantes of Angelo’s Caffe, observed by Renee Boutwell, gingerly test out the new asphalt that was laid down on SE Pioneer Way Thursday. They’ve been accustomed to a dirt road during recent months of construction.  - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
Al and Kathy Collantes of Angelo’s Caffe, observed by Renee Boutwell, gingerly test out the new asphalt that was laid down on SE Pioneer Way Thursday. They’ve been accustomed to a dirt road during recent months of construction.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

The Pioneer Way Improvement Project hit a major milestone this week when about half the roadway received its first layer of asphalt.

Crews began work Thursday morning and by day’s end, Pioneer Way from City Beach to Dock Street was covered in fresh blacktop. With curbs and sidewalks already in, the asphalt transformed the road’s appearance and gave merchants their first real glimpse of what the downtown area will look like once the project wraps up this fall.

Several couldn’t resist the urge to come out of their shops for a closer look and to step gingerly onto the warm new asphalt.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Kathy Collantes, owner of Angelo’s Caffe. “I’m so impressed with how beautiful it looks.”

John Monaghan, a chef at the cafe, said it was nice to see Pioneer Way beginning to resemble a modern  road again, rather than the dirt mess it has been since March when construction first began. The past three months have been difficult, but with the project beginning to take shape, he said things are looking up.

“It was worth it,” he said.

Stan Groszek, owner of Jo Jo’s Harbor Light Tavern, said he’s seen business slow since construction began but that he doesn’t know how much of that was due to construction and how much was due to the economy. Either way, he said he was impressed with the work that’s been done so far.

“I didn’t expect it to get done this soon,” he said. “It’s looking good.”

Work on the rest of project, from Dock Street to Midway Boulevard, began in April when the roadway was torn up and work crews began installing infrastructure. The entire project is planned to be largely completed by September.

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