Smooth sailing on 2nd

Written by By Bill Rautenstrauch The Observer July 02, 2012 02:25 pm

Traffic flowing again as 14-month, $874,000 street-stabilization project completed 

  

La Grande Police Chief Brian Harvey makes a welcoming gesture to the first driver through as the construction barriers on the Second Street hill come down Friday. The City of La Grande hosted a re-opening ceremony, marking the end of a 14-month street closure.

La Grande Police Chief Brian Harvey makes a welcoming gesture to the first driver through as the construction barriers on the Second Street hill come down Friday. The City of La Grande hosted a re-opening ceremony, marking the end of a 14-month street closure.  

A street improvement project long in the making was declared officially complete Friday, as City of La Grande officials and others gathered to remove the barriers to the Second Street hill.

For the past 14 months, contract workers have been busy shoring up the hillside that was found to be slipping and threatening a water line with breakage that could have caused major flooding and millions of dollars in damage. 

The city closed Second Street as contractors stabilized the embankment with a retaining wall, rebuilt the street with curbs and wider travel lanes, and repaired and replaced utilities. The project necessitated a long and continuous period of closure.

“It was a major hurdle to overcome, and we appreciate everybody’s patience,” Mayor Daniel Pokorney said during the ceremony Friday to mark the re-opening of the street. “Most of all the construction team thanks adjoining property owners for their patience and understanding during construction. We also thank a lot of citizens who had to go out of their way during the repairs.”

Pokorney said total project costs were $874,000. Funding came from street user fees, water and sewer user fees, and state and federal sources. JAL Construction of Bend was the contractor.

Pokorney praised several people involved in the project who went “above and beyond the call of duty” to accomplish the work.

Those included J.W. Levesquue, JAL operations manager who worked with sub-contractors to make the project a success, City of La Grande Public Works Director Norm Paullus, who coordinated the project, and Ken Bruce, a community member who monitored progress and represented neighborhood interests.

As the brief re-opening ceremony wound down just after 1 p.m. Friday, the barricades were removed and the first traffic passed up the hill. People looking on cheered.

“Now that the project is completed, it’s time to place this section of the street back in service. With that I would like to announce that the street is now open for business,” Pokorney said.