by Sierra Lauder
Less than six months from now, the Highway Project will be all wrapped up! Last week, the night paving efforts gave us a huge boost toward that finish line, with passes of base layers and a final top layer that brings us to grade throughout the northern portion of the project. It takes a few weeks for that new asphalt to be ready for permanent striping, so we will be navigating in to mid-July with the “sticky stomps” guiding us through the area.
The bulk of the remaining work is along downtown Main Avenue, between First and Fourth. Work will continue through summer to get new sidewalks constructed and make way for the wider lanes and safer street parking, as well as the bioswales that serve a dual purpose for storm water capture and filtration while creating the required parking buffer at intersections. The planting of the bioswales and street trees will take place this fall. Work in the downtown area will, at times through the summer, require a lane closure that will take southbound Main down to one lane. This will certainly have traffic impacts during our busiest season, but arrangements have been made to concentrate work Monday through Thursday during the early part of the day with a priority to get all lanes open by 3pm, recognizing that congestion peaks during the late afternoons and on weekends.
If you do not get the weekly Highway 101/6 Project Update Newsletter, it is not too late! You can call the Chamber Headquarters at (503) 842-7525 or email me at Sierra@tillamookchamber.org, and we’ll sign you up. We do our best to use that (mostly) weekly email to send out updates on the timeline and focus of work and try and keep folks up to date on what to expect as the project progresses.
I’ve recently received several inquiries about the old Shell Station property that sits on First between Pacific and Main. ODOT acquired the property after the project had officially started and it became clear that the new highway pattern made negotiation of tanker trucks for fuel delivery on the property unreasonable. As a part of the project, ODOT has removed the underground tanks, and is currently working with DEQ on some monitoring prior to receiving a “No Further Action” statement on the property. ODOT has a protocol for how these properties are transitioned post-project. Within the agency, the property is assessed and offered to state agencies and then to local municipalities prior to being released for private purchase. This is not a fast process. The ODOT assessment does not begin until the project is completed (this fall), and then it will likely take some time to go through the steps of offering it to other potential owners.
Throughout this time there is unlikely to be any alterations to the property as we see it, meaning that even though ODOT has removed the tanks, they will not be removing the building, canopy, or signage. The City of Tillamook is following the process closely, and the Beautification Committee specifically has made a commitment to keep discussion and updates regarding this property as a standing agenda item. Beautification meets the second Monday of the month at 4:45 at City Hall and is open to the public.
It’s also worth pointing out here that north of the Shell property in the “gore point” (triangle shaped area between the lanes of traffic) a new parcel of property has been created that will be owned and managed by the City of Tillamook. That area has been plumbed to accommodate a fountain, although funding has not been secured yet to build or install a fountain. In artist renditions of the project, that triangular area is often depicted with trees and greenery, and the fountain option and planting are all City goals that can and will likely move forward regardless of the timeline or future of the old Shell property.