Construction crews could start improving the sidewalks along the downtown portion of H Street as soon as next July if the remaining design and bidding process goes according to plan.
Blaine Public Works staff are hoping to get the bid out for the $463,000 worth of construction work by January 2012, acting public works director Bill Bullock said.
The project, the design of which is 60 percent complete, will improve the sidewalks up to the post office and enhance the crosswalks at Third Street in addition to other cosmetic improvements.
“This project will give us 40 years of life,” Bullock said.
The city received a federal grant for most of the total project amount of $520,000, which includes about $57,000 for design work.The remaining funds were acquired through a state transportation grant, so the project won’t cost Blaine a dime, Bullock explained.
The project will add curb extensions, called bulb-outs, to the intersection of H and Third streets to improve the existing crosswalk.Bullock said bulb-outs allow pedestrians a clear line of sight down a row of parked cars and provide better visibility when crossing the street.
The bulb-outs would narrow the road at the crosswalks from 40 feet to 26 feet and would also slow traffic along H Street, making pedestrian crossings safer. The H Street improvements will also bring the sidewalk ramps at driveways and intersections into compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.
The construction should be done by the end of September. Engineers expect some disruption in traffic flow for the businesses along H Street, but the city will work with the chosen contractor to improve the sidewalks in stages, Bullock said.
The new sidewalks will consist of brick-shaped pavers from the curb five feet into the sidewalk. The rest of the sidewalk will remain intact throughout the project, so pedestrian access will not be impeded.
While the majority of the improvements will be on the sidewalks, H Street from Peace Portal Drive to the I-5 overpass will be overlaid with another layer of asphalt to improve the driving surface. No portion of H Street will be dug up during construction.
Street trees will also be added to the project, and designers from Bellingham-based RH2 Engineering said trees with narrow canopies were chosen to avoid blocking views of businesses from the street.
On Peace Portal Drive, roughly 45 feet separate each tree while the new trees on H Street will be 60 feet apart. Engineers said this space will provide a more open feel for pedestrians.