010318-adh-nws-Albany Streetscape-my

Jesus Morfin of Emory & Sons, Salem, does the concrete finish work Tuesday morning on a curb at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Lyons Street. The streetscape project will continue downtown for several more weeks.

Mark Ylen, Democrat-Herald

Sorry, Albany drivers. Your Christmas present of new sidewalks, curbs and pavement downtown will be delayed until at least February — possibly later, depending on the weather.

The second and final phase of the city's Downtown Streetscape Improvements Project got off to a slow start because of permit holdups with the Oregon Department of Transportation and didn't wrap up in December as planned.

However, crews are hard at work this week completing curbs and ramps. Sidewalks should be fully done as of early February, said Lindsey Austin, an engineering technician with the city's Public Works department.

"We are rolling," she said. "We have a lot of momentum now."

Traffic may be restricted to one lane after 7 p.m. starting Sunday on Highway 20 while crews put in new, larger water lines (lanes can't be closed on the highway until night, Austin said). That work should be finished by the end of January.

By the end of February, the old water lines will have been filled with cellular concrete, which is necessary to keep them from collapsing and creating open pockets under the roadway, Austin said. However, the fill work shouldn't inconvenience motorists, she said.

After all the curb, sidewalk, power pole and water line work is done, Austin said, the city will redo all the asphalt on Second and Third avenues where the sidewalk work was completed, and down Lyon and Ellsworth streets from First to Eighth Avenue.

Here's the catch, however: "We have to have about 12 days of dry weather to do that work, in a row," she said. "So even though we’ll be ready for it late February, early March, just because we’re in Oregon, we’re just going to have to keep an eye out and see."

That weather has to be not only dry, but at least 40 degrees and rising, she added. "Realistically, we're probably looking at later spring so we can get some longer stretches of dry weather that are warm enough."

The Downtown Streetscape Improvement Project began a year ago with Phase I: new sidewalks, tree removal and replacement, asphalt paving along the streets surrounding the Albany Post Office, and the creation of 47 back-in angled parking spaces adjacent to the post office.

The cost for both phases is $8.5 million, funded through the Central Albany Revitalization Area.

City spokeswoman Marilyn Smith said it's CARA's biggest investment in public infrastructure to date and has been planned since the district was formed in 2001. 

It was split into two phases to accommodate the opening of the new Albany Carousel Museum and to help reduce disruption downtown during construction.

The streetscape project is listed as part of the district’s objectives, which include retaining and enhancing the value of private and public investment in the area, providing a safe and convenient transportation network that encourages pedestrian and bike access to the downtown, and creating a "readily identifiable core" with a mixture of shops, offices, entertainment and housing.

Regular updates can be found on a Facebook group page, the Albany Downtown Streetscape Project, at http://bit.ly/2EFpWKQ.


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