TALENT — Final work on a $3.3 million project to improve traffic flow into downtown is expected to begin in the next week.

TALENT — Final work on a $3.3 million project to improve traffic flow into downtown is expected to begin in the next week.

When completed, the Main Street-West Valley View Road connection will bypass an awkward intersection at Valley View and Talent Avenue.

Some local businesspeople have already laid groundwork to take advantage of the makeover, while others are exploring potential opportunities that will be unlocked by the new alignment.

"We are definitely looking forward to it getting done," said acupuncturist Clark Zimmerman, co-owner of Middleway Medicine. "I think there's a lot of excitement in Talent these days. People are kind of waiting for a few of the pieces to fall into place before they move forward."

Zimmerman has not established a timeline for his development, but he said the roadwork will hasten construction of a new building he plans on a double lot he purchased on Seiber Street, built as part of the project.

The downtown road project is one of the last major undertakings by the Talent Urban Renewal Agency, which is scheduled to cease operation at the end of 2016.

"We wanted to take the pressure off West Valley View. It's an exploded four-way stop," said agency Executive Director Marla Cates. "You watch people who have never been down there before. They don't know which way they are supposed to turn. They assume (the cars) are going to stop."

As part of the project, the agency worked with Camelot Theatre to erect a new building adjacent to its former location, now an extension of East Main. The agency purchased several vacant lots in the area to gain right of way.

Pilot Rock Excavation Inc. submitted a bid of $543,981 to perform the work and was awarded the contract. The firm also completed the first two phases of the project; construction of Seiber Street with parking behind Camelot, and a Main Street extension and LaPree Street realignment.

The urban renewal agency has entered an agreement to borrow up to $450,000 from the city of Talent to finance the project. Construction tends to happen during the warm-weather months, while the agency receives the bulk of its tax revenue in November and December, Cates said. The city will be repaid in the current fiscal year.

"We are toward the end of our life span, so our resources are continually being limited. We are operating in a pay-as-you-go mode right now and will be until the end of the agency," said Cates.

Road work should be substantially completed before the school year begins. Finish work would continue through September.

About 480 feet of roadway will be constructed to link the end of East Main Street to a roundabout that will be built near Washington Federal Bank on West Valley View. Bike lanes and sidewalks will flank both sides of the roadway. An alley will be built to provide access for homeowners. Because much of the new section is a large curve, only five new parking spaces will be created.

For the immediate future, the roundabout will be more like a big S curve, said Cates. Wagner Street may ultimately tie in to the roundabout should Talent Irrigation District move its operations yard.

A final phase of the project, planned for fiscal 2016, will see construction of a plaza west of the roundabout on abandoned roadway. Money in this year's budget will allow utilities to be placed underground, extending three houses north of the area.

"A goal for the plaza is to have some nice shade trees," said Cates. "You can't have a nice, big, shade-tree canopy when you have a lot of power lines."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.