South Water: Bike lanes, sidewalks, planter strips all part of improvement plan

April 2017 Posted in Community

Residents observe the South Water Street plans. Sheldon Traver

By Sheldon Traver

With the surge in community growth, South Water Street in Silverton has seen a significant increase in automotive, bike and pedestrian traffic during the past two decades.

Those who have trudged through the mud or found themselves biking too close to cars will see major improvements in 2020 as the Oregon Department of Transportation makes needed changes. On March 22, Melissa Sutkowski, a project manager with ODOT, and Christian Saxe, Silverton’s public works director, held a community open house to show residents the preliminary plan and answer questions.

“We are introducing the project to the community so they have a voice in this,” Sutkowski said. “This is still in the preliminary stages and changes can be made if necessary.”

Approximately 15 to 20 people attended the open house at various times during the presentation and question-and-answer session.

As currently planned, South Water Street beyond the downtown core will be widened to include bike lanes in each direction south to Peach Street. Sidewalks will be added to the east and west sides of the street with a 4-foot planted buffer between the street and sidewalk.

South of Peach Street, the roadway will be 34-feet wide, which includes two bike lanes. A sidewalk with planter strip will be added on the east side of the street. The west side of the street will have a planter strip between two and 14-feet wide. On-street parking may be limited south of Peach.

Silverton resident Joe Craig was among several representing the Silverton Bicycle Alliance.

“It was a good first meeting, but I really want to see more details,” he said. “I’m a little frustrated it’s going to take so long, but this is something that has needed to be done for a long time. Whatever is done, it will be good, but we want to have influence on how it is done.”

The project won’t be completed until 2020 due to the time it takes to do the preliminary work.

Saxe said the delay will also give the city time to determine if it can afford to upgrade the aging water line below South Water Street before construction begins.

Surveyors will come to Silverton during the next 12 months to assess the current road and landscape conditions, property lines and easements.

Sutkowski noted that ODOT will not need to purchase land from homeowners, but may need to rent land from them that abuts the projects during construction.

“We don’t want people to be alarmed when a survey crew comes out and stands in their yard,” she said. “They are collecting information so a 3-D model can be developed.”

She also noted that any speed limit changes would need to be assessed by a different department within ODOT following construction.

The $2.2 million project is being paid for through a U.S. Department of Transportation grant and an approximately 5 percent match from the City of Silverton.

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