The broad strokes of a planned $5 million rebuild of Borst Avenue scheduled for next year are all but set in stone, but a number of details could still be up for discussion.
That was the message put forth by representatives of the city of Centralia, Lewis County and civil engineering firm SCJ Alliance at a town hall meeting on Tuesday at Centralia Middle School.
More than 50 residents of the Borst Avenue corridor that runs about a mile from Centralia Middle School down to Centralia High School on Eshom Road showed up to receive updates on the project and ask questions on topics ranging from parking to sprinkler placement.
Brandon Johnson of SCJ Alliance did most of the talking from the podium, following a short presentation by Lewis County Engineer Jack Niehuser. People then split off to examine poster boards that showed individual property lines and how the redesign could affect a front yard or mailbox placement.
“We feel like we’re at a stage now where we can present this information more clearly than just presenting different options like last year,” Niehuser said. “It’s still an opportunity to connect with people and hear feedback before it gets going.”
Plans call for the existing two 12-foot traffic lanes to be excavated and rebuilt slightly to the south to make room for a sidewalk 10 feet across on the north side of the street, which runs east and west. A three-foot wide stormwater drainage system of vegetation along with raised curbing will separate the walkway from the road.
The system will be designed to handle all the stormwater and vehicle runoff that currently puddles in the roadway and gravel shoulders. Street lights will be taken down from the power poles on the north side of the road and replaced with standalone lighting closer to the road.
On-street parking will be significantly reduced, as the shoulders on either side will disappear, though renderings show carve-outs built in wherever possible to allow for a few cars to park here and there.
“It’s the same design that we showed at the meeting in May last year,” Johnson said. “There aren’t any substantial differences between the two. Our hope is that any person with comments either came tonight or gets in touch with us quickly, because we want to finalize it this winter and put it out for bid in the spring. Our goal is to have it done by the time school starts next fall.”
Working to make the high-traffic road safer for motorists and pedestrians — many of whom are students — has been an intermittent topic of discussion at the city and county level for decades. Centralia High School students met with city councilors and county commissioners in 2016 and helped make it a priority for both governing bodies.
Because the city and county each own and maintain a portion of Borst Avenue, Centralia is expected to contribute about $750,000 while the county chips in about $515,000. The state awarded the project $3.8 million in Transportation Improvement Board funds late last year.
“We don’t get $4 million from the state very often,” Johnson said.
A number of details still need to be smoothed out including what adjustments need to be made, if any, to mail and garbage service on the north side of the street.
Each driveway will be preserved with the same dimensions as they have now, though the barriers created by curbing and the pedestrian pathway may lead to route changes. Residents are encouraged to contact their providers to find out more about their plans.
As for items such as sprinkler systems that people have installed on their property within the right-of-way Centralia Public Works Director Kim Ashmore said residents will have the option to relocate them or have the contractors do it.
Choosing the latter option may not come at a cost to the resident, Ashmore said, because of contingency costs built into public works contracts.