TALENT — Paving was wrapped up recently on Gibson Street north of the downtown, completing a project that one resident says beautifies the area and may slow traffic on the road.
"I'm so happy with this. It's really going to dress up the neighborhood a lot," said Eddy McManus, who lives in the 200 block of Gibson. "I think everyone is going to want to put on a new coat of paint."
Improvements include curbs and gutters, with a sidewalk and street parking on the west side. There will be two 10-foot-wide travel lanes but no bike lanes on the quarter-mile roadway. Vehicles will be allowed to park behind curbs and gutters on the east side.
A complete storm drain system has replaced a patchwork of drainage ditches and pipes. The road was lowered 6-8 inches along its entire length, to reroute the rainwater that previously ran into yards. Contractor KOGAP Enterprises Inc. bid $576,000 to perform the work.
Sidewalk installation and a few small items remain.
Paving and water line installation were also completed on Fairview Street off Gibson, a length of 450 feet.
McManus thinks traffic will slow with the addition of curbs and gutters. Some drivers use the street to get between downtown and the intersection of Colver Road and Talent Avenue.
"The No. 1 thing that residents wanted was to slow down the traffic," said City Manager Tom Corrigan. As a result, speed bumps, not called for in the original contract, were installed.
Before the work there was no sidewalk, and pavement blended into dirt and grass shoulders.
"It gave the feel that it was more opened," said city engineer Jeff Ballard. "We wanted to give the feel of a residential area. There's a lot of young families that live on the street that walk back and forth."
With the old pavement removed, the city took the opportunity to install a new water line. Natural gas supplier Avista, which has been replacing portions of its line in multiple locations around town, replaced the entire line on Gibson.
The deadline to finish the project was Nov. 7. When that target wasn't met, the city sent a letter out to affected residents and also established a phone hot line and an email account so that residents could voice their concerns
Corrigan said he received fewer complaints than expected — most people were happy to see the improvements coming.
"It just doesn't matter," McManus said of the delay as he watched paving trucks roll by recently.
Workers found the project complicated by what lay beneath the old pavement.
"Every time we took a scoop we found a private utility on the street," said KOGAP construction supervisor Frank McElheran.
Replacement of the gas lines, 600 feet of old phone line, and the lowering of manholes and three lateral sewer lines all added time to the project, said McElheran. Grades for water and storm lines were also changed.
A penalty prevision in the contract calls for payment of $250 per day for every day beyond the deadline. Corrigan said the city is conferring with KOGAP on the issue.
"It's a project that the city has been trying to fund for a few years. We finally got the money together," said Ballard.
Unlike many recent Talent street projects, there was no outside grant funding. Money for the work came primarily from the city's street, water and storm drain funds.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.