By Sierra Lauder, Director of Events & Downtown Development, Tillamook Chamber of Commerce
After a stressful week of setting up the new traffic footprint last week, this week we see crews starting to break ground (quite literally) on this phase of the project. Starting September 14 about 5:30, final striping on Pacific begins. The striping tonight will require shifting traffic around on Pacific, which forced the closure of parking on both sides of Pacific throughout the day today- a very challenging situation for downtown businesses. Customers at Diamond Art Jewelers, So Chic Boutique and Homelife Furniture found themselves parking either along Fourth St. or in the lot behind the old Muddy Waters location on the corner of Third and Ivy.
Another area of intense focus for contractors is the sidewalks that will allow the bridge to be reopened to pedestrian traffic. Currently, there is no pedestrian traffic allowed on the bridge. Tillamook Police have issued warnings for people attempting to walk through the area. A shuttle system has been set up utilizing the bus, and, for those who need to cross during the night when the bus is not running, an account has been set up for them to use Dial-a-Ride so that people can move from north to south safely until the completion of the sidewalks, which is estimated to be mid-October.
Next week along the slough you can see the beginning of the demolition phase of the old bridge. In order to prevent water quality impacts and assure safety, there is a process to “contain” the demolition of the old bridge and its supports. In the coming weeks, the old bridge will be dismantled and removed, using staging areas immediately to the north and south of the bridge. Try not to be distracted while driving through the area.
Unfortunately, so much of the story this week is “hurry up and wait.” While the parking closures along Main have been set, traffic lanes shifted to the right, and barriers dropped between Second and Third, it can feel disheartening that there is not an immediate dramatic ripping in to the ground. Contractors are making sure they have the supplies, concrete, pipe and tubing on hand and ready to install before digging and opening the ground up to potential rain on the horizon. The goal is to move through each vault and block as quickly as possible and minimize any potential for groundwater seepage or any other unforeseen situation. Concrete cutting has started, and deeper excavation will be underway as early as next week as the excavators move up and down project lines.
Please continue to be cautious and patient as you negotiate the construction zone, be it on foot or behind the wheel.