Resort Street - Yep, It's Open
By Jayson Jacoby
Sure the smooth new blacktop and unmarred sidewalks on rejuvenated Resort Street are nice.
But Michelle Owen is pining for the living aspect of this project which has spanned parts of three seasons.
"I can't wait to see the trees," said Owen, Baker City's public works director.
The trees, all 79 of them, will arrive soon to fill the holes in the sidewalks on both sides of Resort between Auburn Avenue and Campbell Street.
The $3.4 million project has been one of the larger street jobs in the city in the past 20 years.
Work began in April as crews buried power lines and other utilities, eliminating the overhead clutter.
All through summer and into autumn, workers from Mike Becker Construction in La Grande continued.
On Wednesday the length of the street was open, with yellow lines running down the center.
The project isn't quite finished, though.
Crews still have to build some sidewalks, install streetlights, paint parking stripes and crosswalks and, of course, plant those trees, Owen said.
There will be intermittent closures of certain sections of the street over the next couple weeks, but the project remains on track to meet the original deadline of Oct. 31, she said.
The last big impediment will be waiting for concrete to cure at a new, more defined crosswalk that will span Resort at Court Avenue.
The concrete, which could be poured next week, will have to cure for a week, Owen said.
During that time the rest of Resort will be open, but drivers won't be able to cross the Court Avenue intersection.
Another major change is that Court Avenue itself will no longer be open to through traffic between Main and Resort, Owen said.
That short block is closed as part of the city's longtime plan to create a public plaza there, as well as a pedestrian link from downtown to the city's Central Park, just east of Resort next to the Powder River.
Until the plaza is finished, though, there will be head-in parking for about five vehicles on the north side of Court between Main and Resort, Owen said.
Because the overhead power lines have been buried, the hanging yellow light will not be replaced at the intersection of Resort and Washington Avenue, Owen said.
The stop signs on Resort remind drivers that cross-traffic, on Washington, does not stop at that intersection.
Owen said city officials have also discussed the possibility of installing LED stop signs, which would be more visible.
One other item that has been absent during Resort's reconstruction will return, however.
That's the concrete island at Campbell Street, which limits drivers to making right turns only there.
Workers had to remove the island to facilitate repaving.
The four tree species, by the way, are chantillear pear, Princeton sentry ginkgo, musashino zelkova and new world maple.
Owen said the four species have a variety of leaf colors and tree shapes, and they will be distributed so that no single species is limited to a single block.