By Terri Harber
The reconstruction of Resort Street continues as warm weather marks the beginning of more community activities.
The project is on schedule, but traffic issues in and around the project area, between Auburn Avenue and Campbell Street, have become more of a concern.
"We've been trying to get the word out that businesses are remaining open on Resort Street during the street project," said Michelle Owen, the city's public works director.
However, some drivers are having trouble understanding which blocks are open.
Opening and closing streets as needed soon might have to give way to the use of concrete barricades, Owen said.
"It would primarily be for the safety of residents," she said.
There have been some instances of vehicles entering the work area.
"Guys operating big equipment aren't expecting a little car to roll up," Owen said.
One driver recently proceeded onto a closed street and drove under a piece of construction equipment, according to the Baker City Police Department.
There was an earlier instance where someone became frustrated and started tossing traffic cones.
People also have been moving signs. This could be dangerous, officials warn.
Drivers getting past the warning signs prompted the use of big machines as makeshift barricades at Campbell and Madison.
Not putting up barricades to begin with was to allow flexibility when opening and closing streets so access could be restored to residents more quickly.
It also was to allow the crew more time for actual street work because it takes time to place and remove the barriers, Owen said.
She pointed out that most business owners and residents have made an effort to be patient and cooperative, however.
"I really have no complaints," said Jerry Yencopal, owner and manager of Baker City Pharmacy. "We're still doing fine."
Yencopal pointed out that Randy Daugherty, owner of nearby Baker Garage, has been allowing people patronizing other nearby businesses to park in his lot near the corner of Resort and Washington Avenue.
The street crew even created a dirt "ramp" so people could use the drive-up window, from the garage's parking lot, Yencopal said.
Customers who can't - or don't want to - come over for medication or other items can have their purchases delivered, he said.
Traffic around the north end of the project area will be noticeably heavier because the Baker Public Library began its summer reading program today.
The reading program alone is expected to draw 50 youths each day. Many of them will be accompanied by an adult.
Library Director Perry Stokes said summer normally brings large numbers of local youths on break from school into the library on weekdays.
He asked that parents park on Madison, Grove or Campbell streets.
The large parking lot with entry from Resort is closed because of the street work. There is no access to this lot from Campbell.
Disabled library users are being directed to the small library employee lot on Madison. This allows these residents to park as close as possible to the building, Stokes said.
Some people traveling to the library have been using the outer edges of the parking lot at the Dollar Tree when there are no other parking spaces nearby.
Two major community events are coming up soon.
The 100th anniversary of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association is being marked with activities Thursday through Sunday. This includes a parade that moves through downtown on Friday starting at 5:30 p.m.
Next, the Baker City Cycling Classic brings hundreds of bicyclists and race fans to the city. Parking is restricted during much of this event, which goes on June 28-30.
Work on Resort is scheduled to continue through mid-fall and is expected to affect other upcoming activities, such as the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally (July 12-15) and Miners Jubilee (July 19-21).
For all of these events, "Resort Street won't be available as an alternative route as it has been in years past," Owen said.
Curb work begins today and the utility line relocations are nearly complete. Oregon Trail Electric Co-op soon will begin changing over its feeds to this section of Resort from overhead to underground.
The city's Resort Street Report comes out on Fridays and details work plans and street closures. Visit bakercity.com and look to the right of the page where there is a heading about the project and a "click here" link.
"Also look out for the signs around the work area," Owen emphasized.