Expect disruptions on State

Road work means closures, reduced parking and access

WORKERS and equipment will fill State Street, ala this photo taken Friday morning, as construction picks up on the busy downtown thoroughfare.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
WORKERS and equipment will fill State Street, ala this photo taken Friday morning, as construction picks up on the busy downtown thoroughfare.

Engineers like straight lines, and Bill Ketchum gave a straight one to City Council on Monday.

“On Sept. 16 things are going to get ugly. We’ll be causing problems and closing roads.”

Ketchum is project manager for Crestline Construction on the State Street Urban Renewal project, which enters a new and, as Ketchum describes it, problematic, phase.

As a signal of things to come, on Thursday flaggers controlled traffic from Fourth to Second streets as locators, surveyors and concrete workers took measurements, put down markings and made initial cuts in the street surface for excavation that will come — soon.

Starting Sept. 16, between Second and Fourth streets, Crestline will close State Street during the day as street cuts and excavation proceed in earnest. A major element of the $5 million project is undergrounding overhead utility lines and installing new water and stormwater lines, and work on both of those is what is about to start.

The daytime closures means full detours, not the one-way traffic as it has been for the past month. All cars must now shift to Oak Street as they go to and from the State Street bridge and Highway 35.

In another big change, the Fourth Street intersection will be fully closed, eastbound. Cars will still be able to travel between State and Oak via Fourth. However, no cars or pedestrians will have access to the Hood River County Courthouse, on the south side of the intersection.

Ketchum said that starting Sept.16, daytime access by car or foot to the courthouse will be restricted — and closed by Sept. 19.

With the closure of State comes the disappearance of parking on both sides of the street between Fourth and Second.

That means that in less than a week, any vehicle traffic to the courthouse will have to go via Sherman Street, a block south of State. Sherman is a narrow, congested street that is already heavily used by courthouse employees and visitors, as well as the numerous residences between Sixth and Second streets. Parking on the courthouse property is restricted, and will be harder to get to when the State Street access is closed.

Also, on-street parking is at a premium on Sherman, which has the added attraction of being meter-less. In addition, parking on Sherman to the east of the courthouse is limited to one side of the street only.

This is in part due to the narrowness of the four eastern-most blocks of Sherman, where the road slims to one lane, with precarious shoulders, substandard asphalt and limited visibility due to a sharp incline. Increased traffic is a certainty on Sherman, and more people with business at the courthouse are likely to try to park on Sherman.

Back on State, two businesses are directly affected by closure of the street during the day: Discover Bikes at the corner of Third and State, and Sustain Interiors, next door to the east of Discover. Ketchum said the north sidewalk on State will remain open so that customers can get to Sustain. Third Street will be open north of State, to vehicles and pedestrians.

Another frank reality of the project is that, to save money, the ditches they dig will filled with gravel, rather than temporarily paved with asphalt, so it is quicker and less expensive to dig them out again the next day and continue the work.

All that gravel, even compacted, means the potential for more debris on the roadway.

Dev Bell, project engineer, said, “We’ll look at ways to slow traffic at night,” to reduce spread of gravel. Steel plates could also be placed over the gravel, Bell said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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