Streetscape Improvement Project

Starting in October 2015, and lasting at least half a year, the streets around parts of downtown will be more difficult to navigate as the third phase of the Vallejo Downtown Streetscape Improvement Project begins, city officials said.

Construction should take seven months, “but could be extended in the event of unforeseen conditions and inclement weather.”

The project includes streetscape and landscape beautification within a 14-block area bounded by Sonoma Boulevard to the east, Virginia Street to the north, Sacramento Street to the west and Maine Street to the south.

“The project seeks to revitalize the downtown with transit-oriented high density housing and commercial activities in a pedestrian-oriented friendly environment,” city officials said in a statement.

The project’s Phase 3, includes improvements to Sacramento Street from Virginia to Georgia, and Georgia Street from Sacramento to Santa Clara, including the intersection of Sacramento and Georgia streets.

When it’s done, there will be new street furniture, signage, decorative paving, street lighting, and pavement reconstruction, officials said. Plans also call for the removal and replacement of curb, gutter and sidewalk, and storm drainage modifications within the public streets, they said.

Expect disruptions, officials said.

“In order to minimize these inconveniences, temporary localized traffic control, pedestrian wooden ‘bridges’ or ramps will be implemented,” they said. “As an example, wooden bridges/ramps will connect entrances of various businesses to the street in order to maintain access during the demolition of the existing sidewalks. The contractor will notify property owners via ‘door hangers’ and construction signs prior to and during the course of construction.”

Public notices and social media will also be used to inform the public of construction activities and progress, they said. A minimum of one lane will remain open during construction, they said.

The first phase of the project was completed in July 2011. Phase 2 included improvements along Sacramento Street between Georgia Street and Virginia Street and was finished in July 2013.

A combination of federal grant, local match and utility contributions comprise the funding for this project, officials said.

If past experience is any indication, things will improve for those impacted by the latest phase of this project.

“As a business owner and property owner, you are looking for return on your investment,” said Ken Ingersoll, owner of Gracie’s Family Barbecue on Virginia Street, which was involved in phase 2. “We certainly saw a loss in business during construction. But as soon as construction was over, business bounced back and then some, so yes it was definitely worth it from my prospective.”

Ingersoll said he thinks that with what everyone involved has learned during the project’s first two phases, this one should be the least painful of all. But, he knows game-changing surprises often lurk under old pavement.

“You are doing construction in an old part of town so you really do not know what is in the ground until it’s dug up,” he said. “All of this caused unforeseen delays with the first phase. The second phase on the 300 block of Virginia, as far as I could tell, went well. As far as advice for business — owners, city staff and the contractor did a great job on communicating what is going on and what is expected. It’s in everyone’s best interest to get in there, get the job done, and then get out.”

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, Vallejo Times-Herald 10/09/15