By Zach Hagadone
Drive through downtown Sandpoint on First Avenue and you’ll see signs of life returning as the phases of Gov. Brad Little’s “Idaho Rebounds” coronavirus reopening plan proceed apace. Most of all, you’ll notice that you can drive through downtown Sandpoint on First Avenue at all.
Core streets have been in various stages of reconstruction — and closure — since September 2019, but as of Thursday, May 14 the wide-ranging project will be “substantially complete,” according to city officials.
“Final touches/clean up will continue through June 1, in alignment with the original contract timeframe,” said Sandpoint Public Works Director Amanda Wilson.
First Avenue from Church to Cedar streets and Second Avenue opened for use on May 11, signalling the beginning of the end of Phase II of the city’s project to improve downtown infrastructure, which began in 2017 with the two-way traffic reversion throughout downtown, followed by a complete revamp of Cedar Street from First to Fifth avenues in 2018.
What remains is for crews to deal with an unanticipated subterranean void at the eastern sidewalk on First Avenue and Church Street, which project managers said will be finished in time for the June 1 completion date.
The final touches include installing green ornamental pedestrian lights — a grant-funded contract that is expected to take about a week and make way for the incorporation of flower baskets along First Avenue.
Among the features of the project are enhanced pedestrian crossings; seat walls at planters; almost 50 new street trees; 50 parking spaces, including those for standard and compact vehicles; five ADA parking spaces and four motorcycle parking zones; three loading zones; 16 bike racks and seven new benches; the ornamental lights still to be installed; and infrastructure intended to accommodate high-speed fiber internet connectivity throughout downtown.
For more information on Phase II — and the larger downtown revitalization project — go to sandpointstreets.com.
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