PRIEST RIVER — While the overall schedule for downtown construction has not changed, there have been some changes to the project timeline.
“The focus will remain on High Street, because that was the original agreement that the city made with the contractor,” said Welch Comer Engineer Matt Gillis during a public meeting on Tuesday in regards to the construction schedule.
One of the primary concerns among city officials, business owners and other residents is the impact the construction will have on this year’s Timber Days celebration, which kicks off on July 26 with the Hot Neon Nights Car Cruise, followed by a full day of festivities on July 27, including fun run, parade, logging competitions and lawnmower races.
Gillis said he met with the construction contractor on the project, Earthworks Northwest, on Tuesday prior to the public meeting. The current schedule, he said, has the contractor paving High Street — which is part of the Timber Days parade route — on July 22, or possibly July 18 if the paver is available. Therefore, High Street will be paved, and while there will not be concrete sidewalks along the street by Timber Days, they will be hard-surfaced with asphalt.
“It may seem like a waste of material to the city, but the city is not paying for any of that — that’s a contractor’s choice to do it with that method,” Gillis said, adding that it will end up as a “nice product” after they pour the concrete later.
The contractor is expected to have construction equipment cleared out July 25, and will return after Timber Days when their focus will shift to Main Street. The sidewalks and road along Main will not be hard-surfaced in time for the festivities, though Gillis said it will be graded with gravel.
“Anything that could be a hazard will be fenced off or coned off,” Gillis said. “We talked a lot about that ... that it’s got to be a secure environment.”
Gillis also went briefly went over the design of the project, using a rendering of the final design as a visual for the group. The design includes wider sidewalks, a four-way concrete crosswalk at the intersection of Main and High streets, new landscaping, lighting and more. There will also be some color with small areas of clay pavers, which will not fade over time as concrete pavers do. The project includes relocation of the Frontier utility lines along High Street, which are expected to be underground by July 18.
City Council members recently included one of the add alternates that was not approved in the initial construction bid as well, which will complete improvements on Main from Intermountain Dental to Montgomery Street. While the additional work did not affect the schedule, the contractor ran into an unexpected sewer issue that added more than a week to the project.
In response to one of the meeting attendees who said she thought the project was supposed to be completed by Timber Days, Gillis said they’d had a “minor hope” that would be finished, but the original timeline did extend into August, with a focus on having High Street paved and the site secure.
“The reality is there are so many moving parts, extensions to the project, additions to the project — that is why, contractually, we wanted to focus the contractor on High Street,” Gillis said. “It was council’s direction that was the most important thing that had to be done.”
One of the downtown business owners said she is pleased with the crews who have been in front of her building every day since the project started.
“They have been excellent,” she said. “They help me every time I pull in, they help me unload, they let my customers come in, they stop working — they have tried their best to accommodate me, and I know it is a mess and it’s a pain for everyone, but they are trying.”
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.