March 2, 2019 — The highly anticipated start of construction connected with the ReVision Florence streetscaping project will begin next week, with the first stage occurring on the west side of Highway 101 near the Siuslaw River Bridge. This was just one detail of the upcoming renovation that the City of Florence, Florence Urban Renewal Agency (FURA) and the project’s designers and contractors shared with the public at a community pre-construction meeting held Wednesday at the Florence Events Center.
ReVision Florence is a major effort to upgrade and modernize the Highway 101 and 126 corridors leading into Florence and to create a more attractive and meaningful entry point to Historic Old Town. It has been in development since 2015 between the city, FURA, Lane County and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
The meeting began with a brief statement by City Manager Erin Reynolds before turning the meeting over to Florence Project Manager Megan Messmer, who welcomed the full house with a brief recap of the history and the goals of the ReVision Florence.
“One of the key aspects of this project is there are things we love about our community, whether they are in Old Town or the recreational opportunities. There’s something you love about Florence,” she said. “We want to reflect those items in this main corridor so that we create a great first impression when people first come to our community, and if they are leaving, they have a lasting impression and want to come back.”
Construction on the ReVision Florence Streetscape and Paving will begin on Monday, March 4. As of this weekend, mobilization for the contractor is nearly complete.
The purpose of the community meeting was to provide a clear timeline for business owners and residents to use to prepare for, and mitigate, possible disruption related to the $8.5 million improvement effort that will last through September.
City staff also wanted to introduce to community members some of the individuals who will be directly involved with the design, construction and paving associated with the extensive upgrades. The construction contract for ReVision was awarded to Alex Hodge Construction, located in Bend, Ore.
Messmer introduced Alex Hodge’s onsite manager Jerry Henriksen, who said, “We are a small company and we want to work with the city and business owners to make this as painful as possible. I mean as easy as possible,” he added, which drew a laugh from the crowd. “I will be on site every day and business owners can call me directly if they are any issues with work at your location. Maintaining access to your business is one of my top priorities.”
Henriksen’s short presentation touched on the history and size of the construction company as well as the company’s desire to respond to any and all construction related concerns in a timely manner.
The nearly 75 people in attendance then got a chance to ask questions of Messmer, Henriksen and landscape architect David Dougherty.
One of the questions concerned making sure property owners and tenants know about anticipated shut off of utilities at their home or business location.
Henriksen was clear about his commitment to communicate with everyone throughout the six-month construction period.
“If we have to shut something off, we will know way in advance and we will notify anyone that will be effected in advance of any turnoff,” he said. “That notification will include owners, businesses and renters, in any locations that will have an interruption of service.”
The issue of construction-related noise was also broached, and Henriksen said his crews will be working from approximately 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. most days, with some work done at night.
“Most of the main crosswalks on Highway 101 will be done at night, because it is less impactful for businesses than doing it during the day. The noise from the grinder will only last for two to three hours at a time. The paving, which will be done mostly at night by ODOT, is much quieter,” he said.
While Alex Hodge Construction has most of a crew ready, the company is seeking to hire additional local labor.
“We are very interested in putting people to work,” Henriksen said.
He added that a portion of the rock needed for the project will be sourced from Mapleton, keeping some of the project’s money local.
At the end of the general question and answer period, city staff, ODOT representatives and the contractors remained to answer further questions.
ReVision Florence is being overseen and paid for by the city and FURA in partnership with ODOT. There has been significant work done before construction actually begins next week to align the needs of the city with those of the state and federal governments.
The project’s overall goal is to improve the physical aspects of the streets and intersections where Highways 101 and 126 enter Florence, but a secondary goal is to develop a more integrated series of pedestrian walkways, bikeways, sidewalks and plazas to enhance access to the natural beauty of the Siuslaw River and the estuary surrounding Old Town. There will also be long overdue American Disability Act improvements to crosswalks and intersections, along with new street and pedestrian lighting.
During the project, there will be potential short-term travel issues related to the ReVision work. These include lane closures, street closures and traffic delays, though access to businesses and homes will be a priority throughout the project.
According to Messmer, the City of Florence wants to be sure that the public has as much up-to-date information as possible. There is a project website at www.ci.florence.or.us/urbanrenewal/revision-florence and a ReVision Florence Streetscape Project Facebook page. There is also a printed “ReVision Florence Construction Survival Guide,” which can be picked up at Florence City Hall, 250 Highway 101, or found online.