From Fairgrounds to L Street

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Sidewalks will soon be installed on both sides of U.S. Highway 97, on the south end of Madras, as part of a $1.4 million grant-funded project. Beginning this month, Knife River Corp. will start the project to increase pedestrian safety from Fairgrounds Road to L Street.For pedestrians, U.S. Highway 97 on the south end of Madras can be a dangerous place. Sidewalks are hit or miss, and crosswalks are nonexistent.

Five years after the city of Madras was awarded an Oregon Department of Transportation grant of $939,000 for transportation enhancement, pedestrian safety will take a giant step forward as a city streetscape project gets underway.

Later this month, Knife River Corp. will start work on the $1.4 million project, which will include installation of 6-foot-wide sidewalks, curbs, landscaping, lighting and a crosswalk in the project area, which extends from Fairgrounds Road north to L Street.

Jeff Hurd, public works director for the city, explained that the project took longer than anticipated as a result of easement and right-of-way acquisition. The city awarded the bid to Knife River in the fall, and intends for the entire project to be completed by June 1.

Originally, the project was expected to cost $1.1 million, but since the grant was awarded in 2009, the project and the grant have expanded. ODOT grant funds will now cover $1,238,960 of the $1,443,000 project, with the city providing $204,040, he said.

"As part of this project, we're going to widen out the intersection of Fairgrounds Road, so that if you're heading south, and want to hang a right onto Fairgrounds, we're going to widen out the north side so you can make those turns easier," said Hurd.

The city teamed up with Otak Consultant Engineering, of Portland, to design and oversee the project. In preparation for the project, utility crews have been relocating utilities where necessary along the highway.

A median strip in the highway, adjacent to Circle K, will help pedestrians safely cross from the convenience store/gas station to the former Soundz Unlimited area on the east side of the highway.

"There will be a concrete median in the middle to protect people so they don't get run over," said Hurd, noting that the median will take the place of the turn lane that goes into the southernmost entrance to Circle K.

"The south driveway will be restricted to where you cannot do a left out," he said. "On the other side — the north access of the old Soundz Unlimited — you won't be able to do a left out."

Both businesses will retain one driveway from which motorists can turn either north or south.

Knife River will start work on the west side, and then move to the east side as the west side is completed. "The contractor is to maintain business access during construction," he added.

Businesses that already have sidewalks, such as the KFC/A&W, Madras Cinema 5 and O'Reilly Auto Parts in Jefferson Square, will not be affected by the project.

For more information on the project, contact the city at 541-475-2344.

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