Monday, October 8, 2007

Paving Midtown's Island Streets

Finally … finally … finally! … Midtown’s “island tract” streets are going to get paved.

Last Monday, our City Council approved a contract for almost $5 million for the most expensive paving project we’ve ever undertaken – repaving most of the streets between Main and the 101 from Cabrillo Middle School all the way to Five Points. This is typically called the “island tract” because so many of the streets are named for islands off the coast of California.

The paving of the island tract streets is a milestone, because it’s the biggest remaining hurdle to completing the total repaving of the city – an effort that our predecessors on the City Council undertook almost a decade ago. There are many other streets left to pave, but the island tract is “the big one”. It’s 3-4 times larger than the typical city paving project.

That’s because many of the streets are concrete, and they haven’t been paved or otherwise rebuilt in probably a half-century. Whereas many streets in town simply need a new coat of paving, the island tract streets – almost without exception – need to be ground down and rebuilt.

It’ll take the better part of six months, and it’ll take place in two phases. Phase 1 will begin November, when our city crews will conduct prep work on all the streets downtown and then pave all the non-concrete streets (mostly those east of Catalina).

In Phase 2, from March to May, the city will pave all the concrete streets. Most of the concrete streets will receive asphalt paving because the concrete is too deteriorated to restore. But a few streets still have good concrete – and those streets will restored to their former concrete glory. The good concrete streets are:

Chrisman south of Thompson
Catalina south of Thompson
San Nicholas from Anacapa to Coronado
San Clemente from Main to San Nicholas
Coronado from Main to San Nicholas

This project will also include adding 235 handicapped ramps at intersections and installing 137 street trees. This is not as many trees as we would like – but the city engineers say that in many cases the planting strips along the street are too narrow to add more trees.

In our City Council discussion, Councilmember Brennan suggested we should have used this opportunity to rethink the entire stormwater runoff system in Midtown. Although we did not hold up the project to do this, we were generally sympathetic to the idea and asked that the landscaping plan for the paving project be brought back to us so that we can see how the stormwater situation can be improved – and whether we can squeeze a few more trees into the project!

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