First phase of Rails to Trails project completed
The first portion of the Rails to Trails project is finally complete, pending some last-minute fixes to the paved pathway.
The project, several years in the making, is converting the old railway easement from North Main Street to Combs Flat Road to a paved trail for pedestrian and bicycle use. The city originally landed a Rails to Trails grant through Oregon Department of Transportation in 2018, but the various issues delayed the project until late last year.
Work began in December to construct the trail system between Juniper Street and Combs Flat Road. Where the trail crosses Third Street, the city added an enhanced pedestrian crossing, similar to the one found on Lynn Boulevard near Crook County High School, and a center refuge island. The refuge island is meant to help people more easily cross the 56-foot-wide section of Third Street.
Construction is mostly complete now, aside of some minor improvements the city intends to complete in the next few weeks.
"We have got a little bit of shoulder work to do on the trail itself," said City Street Supervisor Scott Smith. "There is a little bit of shoulder gravel to be applied."
He went on to say that ODOT personnel recently conducted a walkthrough on the project and determined that some signage upgrades are needed. In addition, at the end of the month, the city will need to remove some silk fencing and erosion prevention items.
Some fencing has been added along certain portions of the trail to protect nearby property owners as well as prevent vehicle traffic from accessing the pathway. One portion of fence borders B&S Logging. Another portion near Hometown Animal Hospital will also get fenced as well as a portion near Mason Drive.
"Part of the reason I wanted to fence these particular sections is there was a lot of theft going on at B&S Logging (prior to the addition of the trail)," Smith said. "Behind the vet clinic, they put in a drive-up window and it kind of led people to get on the old railroad corridor to exit out of there. And people were cutting down the railroad corridor to get to the food trucks and vet clinic, so they didn't have to deal with the traffic on Third Street."
One other upgrade planned for the newly paved trail area is the addition of some overflow parking north of the local skate park between Ochoco Creek and the pathway.
"Right where the new path starts at Juniper Street, there is a little pie-shaped area," Smith explained. The city will team up with Crook County Parks and Recreation District to gravel that area, put up barriers to keep vehicles from accessing the trail and use the space for additional parking for people visiting Ochoco Creek Park's covered picnic area.
Now that most of the work is complete on the Juniper Street to Combs Flat Road portion of the project, the city will turn its attention to the remaining piece of the project. Work is expected to begin this summer.
"As long as the (city) budget passes, I have budgeted – after July 1 – to pave the rest of the corridor from Juniper (Street) to the Chamber of Commerce (building on Main Street)," Smith said.
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