Martin King Jr. Blvd. is being prepped for closure between First Avenue and First Street. Mowat Construction Company will begin moving equipment and materials into the area near the BSNF Railroad tracks crossing MLK, Jr. Blvd. in preparation for the start of construction on Yakima's newest underpass.

Electronic reader boards will alert drivers about the pending closure, which is scheduled to start on Monday, Mar. 11. While MLK, Jr. Blvd. west of First Avenue will remain open to local traffic during construction, eastbound drivers on MLK, Jr. Blvd. will be encouraged to turn right on Fifth Avenue and use Yakima Avenue to reach downtown Yakima.

Mowat, the primary contractor for the MLK, Jr. Blvd. underpass, expects construction on the $10.6 million project to continue until late summer or early fall of 2014.

The MLK, Jr. Blvd. underpass is designed to improve driver and pedestrian safety, reduce exhaust emissions, and improve response times for emergency responders. Like its sister Lincoln Avenue underpass, funding for the MLK Jr. Blvd. underpass is coming primarily from state and federal sources.