By Cameron Rasmusson
Despite the poor air quality, construction work along Cedar and Oak streets is on schedule and on budget.
This week, workers will finish installation of the stormwater piping and backfilling, form and place curbs and gutters and install conduits between Fourth and Fifth avenues. The block will be open to pedestrians but closed to motorists. The block between Third and Fourth avenues will be open to both pedestrians and motorists as crews work on the remaining pedestrian ramps, foundations for stormwater swales and street furniture and setting brick pavers. After Labor Day, workers will start grading the roadway with expectation of paving beginning the week of Sept. 10.
“That is contingent on weather and avoiding utility conflicts,” said Sandpoint Public Works Director Amanda Wilson. “It’s also going to take us until mid September.”
Right around the corner is another major downtown project: the replacement of the sewer main on First Avenue spanning from Cedar and Second to Church. Work will begin south and progress northward, with First and Main being the first intersection to be closed. It should be re-opened by mid-September. The Farmin’s Landing parking lot will offer two-way access for individuals trying to get to businesses in the region.
One unexpected advantage of the street section being closed to traffic is that an upcoming cornhole tournament on Sept. 15 will take place there. During the tournament, cornhole boards will be set up on either side of the street. According to Sandpoint City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton, drawing people downtown will hopefully bring more activity to businesses hurt by the construction.
“We recognize from a city standpoint the impact the construction projects are having on our businesses,” Stapleton said. “We want to do what we can to offset impacts of that construction.”
Meanwhile, work is progressing steadily on Oak Street. The blocks between Boyer and Fifth will be open on Monday, but the street will be closed from Fifth to Fourth while sidewalk replacements take place. Work should be complete by mid-September.
On 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28, city officials and contractors will hold a downtown open house at Cedar Street Bistro. Anyone with questions about the work is invited to attend and learn about the progress. Residents can also expect workshops coming up about phase two of the downtown revitalization project, which is slated to take place next year.
Throughout the smoky weather, workers have managed to keep projects on schedule. According to Wilson, the city got somewhat lucky with the timing of the poor air quality.
“We kind of lucked out since Sunday was our worst day,” she said. “The worst part of being on the weekend definitely helped.”