The street in front of Hermiston City Hall will close Thursday and not re-open until Memorial Day as contractors transform it into a festival street designed to host events.
Moreno & Nelson Construction of Walla Walla will begin work on Northeast Second Street between Main Street and Gladys Avenue this week. An ad-hoc committee of business owners helped create the street’s design, which was then finalized by city engineers Anderson Perry & Associates.
“We’re to the point of construction and we’re very excited about that,” city planner Clint Spencer told a group of downtown business owners at an informational meeting Monday.
The project will put the sidewalk and lanes of travel on the same level, separating pedestrians from vehicles using trees and short posts called bollards instead of a curb. During events such as farmer’s markets or arts festivals, the street — which will feature decorative brickwork, landscaping, lighting and other elements — can be blocked to vehicle traffic.
Representatives from Moreno & Nelson answered questions about access to building entrances, cleanup and other concerns Monday, and said they hoped to make construction as painless as possible for nearby businesses and First United Methodist Church. While the sidewalks in front of businesses like Scrubs Life and Brickhouse Coffee & Bistro will be missing for part of the construction phase, contractors plan to lay down gravel and take other steps to make it easier for the public to access the buildings.
They said the best thing people can do is spread the word that though there will be work going on during the day Monday through Friday businesses are still open. The same portion of Second Street has been closed to vehicles the last three Decembers for the city’s Christmas tree and light display.
Future phases will extend the festival street farther down Second Street in both directions and add a water feature to the municipal parking lot across from city hall, but Spencer said the timeline for those would depend on future funding opportunities.
As parking spaces are removed from one side of the street but changed to diagonal spots on the other, Spencer said the first phase should end up with the same number of total parking spaces as before. He said the city was looking for a place to move the cardboard collection station in the parking lot to free up a couple of extra spaces there during construction.
“Substantial” completion of the project is planned for Memorial Day, with any final punchlist items finished by June 15.
The city hopes to use the completed festival street for annual events like Funfest in addition to adding some new, small events such as live music during First Thursdays to help draw people downtown.