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Talent Avenue to get upgrade

TALENT — Talent residents can look forward to having smoother roads in town by the end of the year.

Reconstruction of North Talent Avenue will begin Friday, and repaving plans for other primary routes have been scheduled for later in the year.

Pilot Rock Excavation has been awarded a $360,444 contract to rebuild 1,067 feet of North Talent Avenue from the intersection with Colver Road to Lapree Street. Engineering costs will add to the total. Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of August, and traffic restrictions will be in place during the construction.

"It will look very similar to what exists through the downtown on Talent Avenue, minus some landscaping," said Jeff Ballard, a city engineer. "It will basically take up the entire 60-foot right-of-way throughout there."

Improvements will include 6-foot sidewalks on both sides of the road, 5-foot bike lanes in both directions and 11-foot vehicle lanes. Parking bays 8 feet wide and park-block features will be incorporated along the route.

No excavation will be required for water lines and storm drains under the street because they were replaced in 1996.

"Parking alternates from side to side," said Ballard. "There's not any place where there's parking on both sides."

A state Pedestrian and Bicycle Program grant of up to $354,620 will help fund portions of the project.

The balance of the financing will come from bonds sold by Talent's Urban Renewal Agency.

The project cost had been estimated at $664,000 when the grant was submitted, but the economic slump has reduced construction costs, Ballard said.

Bids for the repaving of West Valley View Road and part of Talent Avenue will be opened on July 16. The two projects are funded by $260,000 from federal stimulus funds, the regional share allocated to Talent. Work is expected to start in October.

Valley View will be repaved from the Bear Creek bridge near Interstate 5 to Highway 99. Talent Avenue will be repaved from the Wagner Creek Bridge to Wagner Street.

W.H. Pacific Engineering was selected by the city to create plans and specifications for the two projects, which will go through an Oregon Department of Transportation procurement process to administer the federal funds.

Both projects stop short of areas on Talent Avenue and West Valley View Road where the Urban Renewal Agency will reconfigure the street layout to create a new entrance to downtown and facilitate traffic flow.

"We don't want to work on something where we have to redo it in two years," said Ballard.

Urban renewal officials have been talking for a year with the Camelot Theatre company, whose building sits in the way of an extension of West Valley View Road that would connect with Main Street as part of the new route.

In June 2008, the agency offered $457,500 for the building and land. In March a theater company representative said the group wanted to retain a portion of the site and possibly move the building.

Richard Gleitsmann, vice president of the Camelot board, said he could not discuss the negotiations.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.