After years of plans, Streetscape kicks off

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By Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald

Motorists traveling busy Griffin Avenue began their detour around the heart of downtown Enumclaw Monday morning, as work crews tackled Phase 1 of the ambitious Streetscape project.

Signs alerting drivers to the coming detour went up late last week and the alternate route - which uses Porter Street, Stevenson Avenue and Second Street - was enforced beginning Monday.

Phase 1 of the downtown renovation project takes in Griffin Avenue between Wells and Railroad streets. Crews are now in the process of installing a new curb, gutter and sidewalk, and will totally rebuild the Griffin/Cole Street intersection.

The project had its ceremonial start about 7 a.m. Monday, as Mayor John Wise was given the controls and allowed to tear into a chunk of the normally-busy intersection.

The city had anticipated everything was on schedule, but was nearly thrown a serious curve Thursday during a preconstruction meeting. During the months leading up to Streetscape, the city was in close contact with the state Department of Transportation and had assumed everything was in order. On Thursday, however, the DOT expressed concern over the planned detour route to the south of Griffin Avenue, and threatened to delay the Monday start.

Chris Searcy, Enumclaw's public works director, explained the city had worked with one branch of the DOT, but another arm of the state agency attended the preconstruction meeting. By 11 a.m. Friday, everything had been ironed out and the construction schedule was salvaged.

While crews are working on Griffin Avenue, two blocks of Cole Street will be turned into a mini-parking lot, allowing downtown shoppers continued access to merchants. Because traffic will not be passing through, the stretch between Initial and Myrtle avenues will be striped for head-first parking; the existing slots for parallel parking will disappear.

Signs warning that Cole is blocked were put up at Myrtle and Initial avenues.

Following completion of Phase 1, attention will shift to the one-block stretch of Cole Street between Stevenson and Initial avenues. Work on Phase 2 is expected to take three weeks and will involve complete removal of both the street and sidewalk. When rebuilt, downtown's main street will feature a "zero curb" look, where the street and sidewalks consist of a flat plane stretching from one storefront to another. There will be physical and visual barriers to separate traffic lanes and parking strips from pedestrian areas.

The remainder of the Streetscape project looks like this:

€ Phase 3, Cole Street between Marshall and Myrtle avenues, three weeks.

€ Phase 4, Cole Street between Initial and Griffin avenues, three weeks.

€ Phase 5, Cole Street between Griffin and Myrtle avenues, three weeks.

€ Phase 6, Griffin Avenue, between Wells and Porter streets, two weeks.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at

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