News

Streetscape on schedule, over budget

By Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald

The ambitious downtown Streetscape project - about half-way completed - is now running approximately $50,000 over budget.

City officials brought that to light during a weekly meeting with downtown merchants Friday morning, while also disclosing a problem with local rock is keeping part of the project from being completed on schedule.

Every Friday morning at the Enumclaw Public Library, Public Works Director Chris Searcy and Community Development Director Les Johnson join with construction supervisor Lance Friberg to offer a project update. The meetings, beginning at 8:30 a.m., are open to the public.

The news wasn't particularly good last week.

For several reasons, the project has crept over budget, Searcy and Johnson explained. Primary among those were some unanticipated, underground troubles during the initial phase of the project, at the intersection of Cole Street and Griffin Avenue. How the deficit is handled - whether cutting costs or coming up with extra money - will be determined by the seven members of the Enumclaw City Council.

One idea tossed about was cutting the "public art" segment from the project. "There always was the possibility that gets slashed out," Search said, adding it is unlikely art would be sacrificed. He said $45,000 has been set aside for art to be incorporated into the project.

On another note, Searcy and Johnson explained why the troughs separating parking areas from sidewalks on Cole Street are still covered with strips of plywood. The plan has been to use rock inlays to create a visual barrier between parking stalls and the pedestrian walkway, using sandstone and andesite to give a checkerboard appearance. Both would come from Wilkeson quarries.

"We wanted to keep our stone as local as possible," Johnson said, explaining the original plan called for alternating bluestone (mined in Pennsylvania) with the Wilkeson sandstone. Andesite was suggested, and approved, as a preferred alternative. However, when large chunks of andesite were cut, they were found to be full of fractures; efforts to cut small blocks for the Enumclaw project turned many to rubble. Using andesite has been deemed financially impossible.

There are now two alternatives. A quarry on Lummi Island is producing a different rock that might be even more aesthetically pleasing, Johnson said. If that plan falls through, the Pennsylvania bluestone will be used. A decision is expected this week, and it could be another month before enough stone is cut to complete the Streetscape project.

Meanwhile, work continues on Cole Street between Griffin and Myrtle avenues. It was expected old sidewalks would be demolished and new sidewalks poured this week and the concrete street would be poured next week. After this fourth phase is complete, crews will turn their attention to the one-block stretch of Cole Street between Griffin and Initial Avenue. The final step will be sidewalk improvements on Griffin Avenue between Wells and Porter streets.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com

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