Long St. sidewalk upgrade planned

Long Street soon will have a sidewalk and bike lane extending from the downtown area to Hawthorne School.

The City Council accepted a grant of approximately $364,000 during its regular meeting on Feb. 24 from the Oregon Department of Transportation to fund the project.

ODOT biannually awards grants for sidewalks and bike lanes, Senior Engineering Technician Joe Graybill said. This is the third time the city applied for the grant.

The project will cost an estimated $428,000, Public Works Director Mike Adams said, requiring the city to match the grant with $63,400 cash and pay for any additional costs associated with the project beyond the grant amount.

The project must begin no later than Oct. 31, 2011 and be completed within five years, Adams said. Upon starting the project, the state will deposit half of the grant funds with the city. The balance will be paid as reimbursement upon completion and state inspection of the project.

This year will be spent in engineering and design and coordinating with School District 55 and utility companies, Graybill said, but “I want to be well into it by summer 2010.”

The reason for pursuing the grant “is a combination of the safety of the people out there and the pedestrians that walk up and down the street and not having a real good way of our own to build infrastructure like that,” Graybill said.

The project includes a new sidewalk along the south side of Long Street from 22nd Avenue to 35th Avenue with sections along the north side in front of Hawthorne School, from Clark Mill Road to 35th Avenue, and a section between 22nd Avenue and Mountain View Road.

The bike lane along the south side will be replaced, Graybill said. The bike lane was built sometime in the early 1990s.

“Its proximity is a little too close to the roadway,” he said. The sidewalk and bike lane should improve safety on a street linking Hawthorne to the downtown area and often used by children.

“It’s been on the Traffic Safety Committee agenda for a long time to be improved,” Graybill said. “Funding of course has been a big issue.

The improvements will encroach a little into the Hawthorne parking lot, Graybill said, and he will work with School District 55 on that.

Some of the Long Street ditches, especially near the school, will be enclosed during the project, he said, and it will take care of a sight-distance problem near 29th Avenue.

The project will be added along the edge of the existing Long Street roadway, Graybill said. The pavement on Long Street is in good condition along most of the project.

Graybill is seeking other funding sources for projects along Mountain View Road, to address concerns around the junior high, and projects on 47th, 49th and other streets.

Present at the meeting were councilors Greg Mahler, Eric Markell, Jim Gourley, Mayor Craig Fentiman, Scott McKee Jr., Laure Fowler and Jim Bean.

In other business, the council:

– Updated racquetball fees, decreasing the price for a membership for families living outside town from $112.50 to $100 and charging the $6 fee for the access card only when it is lost.

– Appointed Virginia McFarlan to fill a vacancy on the All-Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee.

– Approved a pay increase for Municipal Court Judge Larry Blake. His compensation will increase from $2,000 per month to $2,250 per month on Aug. 1 and then to $2,500 per month on Aug. 1, 2010.