March 16, 2019 — During the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce Lunch and Learn Forum on Thursday, City of Florence Project Manager Megan Messmer was the featured presenter. She provided the 50 attendees at the Best Western Pier Point Inn with a recap of the Florence ReVision Streetscaping Project and an update on the construction activity taking place on Highway 101.
This is the second week of construction on the project, which is projected to be finished by October. Initial work is taking place on the west side of Highway 101 and includes removal and replacement of curbs, street entrances and access points for businesses located there before proceeding with work on the west side of the road.
Chamber Executive Director Bettina Hannigan welcomed those in attendance and briefly described her hope that the information provided during the luncheon would make the challenges faced by local businesses during the construction minimal. She encouraged business owners to prepare for some unexpected developments during the construction which might impact them.
Hannigan also stressed the intention of the chamber to work closely with city staff to make pertinent information available quickly to its members and the public.
In her presentation, Messmer first explained the reasoning behind the city’s decision to undertake a project of this type. ReVision is focused equally on improving the visual experience of visitors to Florence and incorporating the need to upgrade sidewalks and crosswalks to meet Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) requirements of the American Disabilities Act (ADA). These two goals will be accomplished throughout the project, along with a wide array of additional improvements.
“I love Florence and the people here and I don’t think this corridor as it stands today reflects everything that’s great about our community,” Messmer said. “We are working on things we can improve to make our first impression for tourists passing through a positive one. We are doing the ADA improvements that ODOT is required to do, we are adding bike lanes, redefining parking and adding and improving landscaping throughout the area.”
The pace of the construction was one of the first questions she fielded. The questioner wanted assurances that the work being done on Highway 101 would either be completed, or put on hold, during the Rhododendron Festival weekend.
Messmer responded by providing an updated timeline for the project, which included clear parameters for the contractors during the busy Rhody Days in May.
“On the timeline, there are major holidays in there when they cannot work. The west side of Highway 101 needs to be done by May. They know that Rhody weekend is two weeks before that,” Messmer said. “They have guidelines in their contract that state there cannot be any open trenches during the weekend. They need to fill everything in, even if it means they will have to dig it back out, and there will be no work done from Thursday to Sunday that week.”
There were then questions regarding whether the work being done will affect the annual Grand Floral Parade staged on Highway 101 on Sunday, May 19, as part of the festival.
“That is the goal!” Messmer insisted. “I can’t promise that it will be done by the, but that’s how we planned it to work. ODOT and the contractor do know that this is our No. 1 priority.”
A later question expressed concern that the work being done was unnecessarily blocking access points to business locations on Highway 101.
Messmer said that even though there may not appear to be work being done at a particular location, the contractors need to keep the complete corridor open to allow access for everyone during construction, including pedestrians and mobility challenged individuals.
One of the lesser known upgrades was also highlighted by Messmer — it is one that will enhance the area by removing something.
“We are undergrounding all utilities. So, all the power lines and utility lines that run parallel to Highway 101 will be underground,” Messmer said.
Florence City Manager Erin Reynolds was also on hand for the luncheon. In response to a question, she said that the city was focused on updating the public on a continuing basis and would provide information on the city website and through social media platforms.
For more information on the ReVision Streetscaping Project, including an updated Frequently Asked Questions page, visit the City of Florence at ci.florence.or.us/urbanrenewal/revision-Florence or go to facebook.com/ReVisionFlorenceUpdates/.