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Hersey Street project nears completion

With the massive Hersey Street reconstruction project nearly complete, the city of Ashland has decided to give residents a breather and postpone replacement of North Mountain Avenue until 2022, work originally scheduled for this year.

“It was just going to be too much inconvenience for people,” said Paula Brown, Ashland public works director.

The two streets intersect at North Mountain Park, so many of the residents who dealt with long periods of detours during the work on Hersey also will be impacted by the North Mountain replacement.

The Hersey job was not a mere resurfacing. First there was considerable utilities prep work. Contractors subsequently had to break up and grind some portions of the roadway, dig out and haul away others, then construct a new street from scratch.

Budget for the project was $4.5 million, funded primarily through food and beverage taxes. “We came in under budget at $3.9 million,” Brown said.

Most of the work on Hersey has been completed, including improvement of railroad crossings, and installing ADA-compliant ramps at crosswalks. This week, crews poured concrete crossings at Hersey and Oak.

Hersey was the subject of complaints for several years as motorists had to dodge a myriad of potholes and rough patches.

“We’re shooting for the first week in March for striping,” Brown said. “We have to let the concrete cure, clean up the area, and do the work in warmer weather.”

Work on North Mountain Avenue between Interstate 5 and East Main Street will be done in stages. Ashland City Council was expected to award design contracts this week. Utility replacements where necessary and other prep work will be completed in time for construction to begin in 2022. Total cost for the project is estimated at $2.56 million, funded primarily with food and beverage taxes.

The project will consist of an asphalt overlay and partial rebuild, including some full-depth reclamation of the existing asphalt surface, and replacement of non-ADA-compliant sidewalks and handicap access ramps.

“We prefer to work on one lane at a time, but we will have to detour traffic through Riverwalk at times,” Brown said.

Work on Wightman Street between Quincy Street and Siskiyou Boulevard is slated to begin this summer. The million-dollar project, funded by food and beverage tax revenue, will consist of an asphalt overlay as well as some full-depth reconstruction and replacement of non-ADA-compliant sidewalks and access ramps, with utility replacements where necessary.

Also scheduled this year are various sections of overlay work done by city crews, slurry seals at several locations by city and county crews, and chip sealing on some of the city’s dirt roads, funded by an ODOT grant.

Two additional major street projects will begin in 2021:

  • Ashland Street between Siskiyou Boulevard and Faith Avenue will get a partial rebuild and an asphalt overlay, with replacement of some sidewalks and access ramps. The $4.5 million project is funded primarily with food and beverage taxes.
  • Clay Street will see a $5 million makeover from East Main Street to Siskiyou Boulevard, with design work starting early in 2021. Jackson County, which owns the street, applied for and received a state grant for the project. It is transferring the funds to the city, which will manage construction.

In other public works news, the city is considering construction of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Bear Creek across from a new development being built adjacent to Meadowbrook Park II off of North Mountain Avenue.

A date for construction is not certain, but the city has an idea where it might be built.

“We’re looking at a narrow section of Bear Creek on city property,” Brown said.

The greenway path would continue across the new bridge and eventually connect with North Mountain Avenue.

Infrastructure work on the new Kestrel addition started this winter. KDA Homes currently is putting in streets and utility connections, with construction of homes, in three phases, to begin in April. When finished, the development will include single-family residences, town homes, cottages and condos.

Ashland’s new water treatment plant is now in the final design phase. The 7.5-million-gallons-per-day facility was originally budgeted at $32 million.

“It may go up,” Brown said, “because the council is looking at adding features to increase energy efficiency.”

Funding will come from utility bill revenue and a loan from the state. The city already has $19 million for the project. An Oregon Infrastructure Finance Authority loan will provide the balance at 1.79% interest and $1,030,000 in principal forgiveness.

The new facility will be built near Granite Street west of Glenview Drive, replacing the existing treatment plant in the canyon below Hosler Dam.

The plant is designed to fully meet current and potential future regulatory requirements, and to serve the citizens of Ashland for more than 50 years.

Jim Flint is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.

Jim Flint photoA Knife River Materials Cat operator breaks up asphalt in preparation for installation of concrete crossings at Oak and Hersey Streets, finishing reconstruction of Hersey from North Main Street to North Mountain Avenue.