Completion date moved back to end of July

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Business accesses are clearly marked along U.S. Highway 97 on the south end of Madras, where contractor Knife River Corp. is installing sidewalks and other pedestrian safety improvements from L Street to Fairgrounds Road.You can't miss it. The project to put in sidewalks along U.S. Highway 97 on the south end of Madras is now in its fourth month, and has another two months to go.

Originally scheduled to be completed by June 1, the project's timeline was extended to July 31, due to utility conflicts, according to Jeff Hurd, director of the Madras Public Works Department.

Knife River Corp., overseen by Otak Consultant Engineering, was ready to start work on the project in late January, before February's cold and recordbreaking snowstorms. Then, utility conflicts pushed back the start date once again.

"Once we got through the utility conflict issue, things have taken off," said Hurd, noting that the contractor is working on the west side of the highway first.

"When they get the west side done, they'll jump over and do the east side. The majority of the west side will be done by the end of May," he said.

While business owners are eager for the work to be completed, so they can have normal access to their businesses, most are taking the disruption in stride.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Excavators for Knife River Corp. work on the pedestrian safety project along U.S. Highway 97 on the south end of Madras.Judy Knapp, co-owner of Hair Works, on the east side of the highway at Bard Lane, is impressed with the consideration shown by the contractor. "They have been exceptionally nice and accommodating to us," she said. "They always let us know ahead of time if they have to turn off the water for 15-20 minutes."

On the west side of the highway, Circle K, a gas station, convenience store and bus stop for the Central Oregon Breeze, had only one of its two entrances open, which made it a little more difficult to get in and out of the business. The manager declined comment on whether or not it was affecting business.

Just north of Circle K, Mike McKay, manager of Home Federal Bank, said he hadn't heard any complaints from customers, who were managing to successfully navigate the "business access" signs.

At Madras Paint and Glass, employee Dustin Dahlgren said that the project didn't seem to be affecting business.

"Knife River's been real good about working with us and making sure people can get in and out," he said.

The $1.44 million project, funded primarily by an Oregon Department of Transportation grant of $1,238,960 for transportation enhancement, will include installation of 6-foot-wide sidewalks, curbs, lighting and landscaping from L Street south to Fairgrounds Road.

Adjacent to Circle K, a median strip in the road will help pedestrians cross the highway to the former Soundz Unlimited location.

The concrete median strip will take the place of the turn lane that currently goes into the southernmost entrance to Circle K. At that entrance, drivers will only be able to turn right into the parking lot, or right out to the southbound lane of the highway.

From the northern entrance, drivers will still be allowed to turn either right or left.

Although Hurd expects the project to "start looking good," by the end of May, "they'll probably have some landscaping and asphalt paving to do through the end of June," he said.

The intersection at Fairgrounds Road will also be widened, so that southbound motorists who turn onto the road will have more room to maneuver, Hurd said.

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