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Old Town concrete repaving project progresses

Old Town Sherwood merchants generally agree that plans to repave two downtown streets with concrete will work out if the city doesn't do it during peak business times of the year.

On May 8, city staff and representatives from Murray Smith Associates gathered at the Sherwood Rebekah Lodge to lay out plans to resurface Railroad Street from Pine to Main streets, and Washington Street from Railroad to First streets.

The refurbished roadways will be similar to the 2009 concrete street project on Pine and Main streets.

'We're really looking to improve the design elements,' Jason Waters of the city's engineering department told about 10 downtown business owners. Part of the project will fix drainage and other problems, he said.

Waters said the goal is make sure such festivals as Cruisin' Sherwood and the Robin Hood Festival, events that occur in June and July, respectively, aren't impacted.

Plans are also to transform an alleyway that stretches from Main to Pine streets into a narrow passageway that could be suitable for pedestrians as well.

Along the way, the city wants to make sure businesses aren't interrupted significantly and will try to make accommodations to make the design inviting to pedestrians as money allows.

'The idea is to do this in a reasonable fashion,' said Bob Galati, Sherwood city engineer. 'We have a limited amount of funds.'

While costlier initially, concrete streets have a lifespan of up to 75 years compared to properly maintained asphalt roadways, which generally last only 25 years, Galati said.

Gabe Crop with Murray Smith and Associates, Inc., engineers and construction managers for the project, said the Railroad Street renovation will include sidewalks with rolled curbs on both sides of the street. Currently, there are no sidewalks on the railroad track side of the street.

Crop said his firm is open to suggestions on the possibility of having wider sidewalks on the business side of the street to make them more pedestrian friendly. While new sidewalks already in place on Pine Street are 12 feet wide, Railroad Street sidewalks on the business side of the street could be as wide as 16 feet with narrower sidewalks on the side nearest the railroad tracks.

The tracks are owned by Union Pacific but Portland and Western Railroad runs its freight trains along the line (although no train has passed over the tracks in more than a year, city officials say).

Crop said if the project began during warm weather months, it would take anywhere from two to three months to complete.

Although the blue street lamp poles will remain in the core downtown area, traditional black lamp poles will be used in some of the future Cannery Square retail and multi-family residential project. The blue poles caused controversy several years ago when some residents and merchants objected to the color scheme, saying it was too dramatic a change.

Galati said the city plans to learn from past mistakes and take public comments to heart.

Galati said Washington Street will be a little more pedestrian friendly but not as much as Railroad Street because the former is limited by the buildings already in place. In addition, most trees on Railroad and Washington streets will be replaced with trees that grow taller before spreading out their canopies.

Several business owners agreed it would be better to have the project occur in the spring instead of busy summer months. They also said they want as little disruption as possible to business and didn't want to see the project drag on.

Michele Howard of Sweet Story Boutique Bakery and Confectionary said regardless of the city's efforts at beautification if she has to close her doors to accommodate it for any length of time, it would be devastating to business.

Galati said the goal is to make street improvements with the least interruption as possible.

'The intent is really to minimize the impact to the businesses to the greatest extent possible,' he said

Cost of the concrete renovation is $2.9 million with funding coming from the Urban Renewal Agency.