The portion of the Gable Road Project currently under construction in front of St. Helens High School (SHHS)is slightly delayed, although expected to be completed by the end of the week, according to Columbia County Public Works Department Assistant Director Tristan Wood.
“We’re a little bit behind to be finished before school starts next week, but we’re doing everything we can to make that happen,” Wood said on Thursday, Aug. 29.
This week, traffic is open to two lanes after having been open to only one lane for a few weeks.
By the end of the first week of September, the project is expected to have completed installing sidewalks, driveway access and bike lanes on both sides of Gable Road, all the way up to the third entrance of the high school, although Wood said bike lanes will not be striped until April of next year, when the rest of the project is due to be completed.
The overall purpose of the Gable Road improvement project is to increase safety for SHHS students, as well as to try to link neighborhoods together.
“The retirement home had no wheelchair access. The high school was isolated, and students were having to go out into lanes, crossing into traffic,” Wood said. “That just wasn’t acceptable to us. We partnered with the city to drastically improve pedestrian safety along Gable Road.”
When the project is finished, high school students will have direct sidewalk access to the shops in the area, and sidewalks will run the length of Gable Road from Highway 30 all the way to Avamere, an assisted living facility and retirement home.
The work is not over the first week in September, however. The months-long project is not expected to be completed until end of June of next year, slightly delayed from the initial April deadline.
When the portion of Gable Road is finalized in front of the high school, construction will continue on storm and sanitary sewer lines, as well as road widening all the way down the rest of Gable Road.
“We’re doing about as much work under the ground as we are above the ground,” Wood said.
Part of the reason for construction on storm and sewer lines is due to the increase in the surface area and to stop water from draining into residents’ yards. According to Wood, the widening of the roadway creates a larger impervious surface so water must be collected and treated before it goes into the storm system.
The project has faced a few delays.
“With the amount of rock we’ve hit, we’ve had to delay road closures,” Wood said.
To deal with road closures, Wood said the county will utilize traffic control once school has begun. They have two flaggers in front of the school this week, and they will have one flagger in front of the school beginning next week.
Wood said the project is expected to complete its final list of pavings in April, weather dependent, when the project was initially expected to be completed. However, Wood said, the bulk of the project should be completed no later than June, with some additional planting to be done in the fall.
The Gable Road Project is a $3 million safety and access improvement project, funded in part by a grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Enhance It Program. Columbia County and the City of St. Helens, partners in the project, have been working for more than a decade to acquire necessary funds for improvements.