In the first of two public workshops Wednesday at Elk Valley Rancheria, Crescent City staff dusted off a 2012 plan to rebuild Front Street and
asked for public input.
Called the Front Street Vitalization and Roadway Safety Project, the plan proposes to narrow the street, add parking, trees, art and other amenities.
The city and the Elk Valley Rancheria are partnering for a second year to apply for a BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) grant from the Department of Transportation.
City Manager Eric Wier said the project could not have come together without the rancheria, since it has hired two separate consultants to help with the competitive grant application. He said the overall project cost would come to about $17 million.
Wier said that the city’s 2018 grant application was not funded, but the city and rancheria hope to build on the previous application to make it better. Elk Valley Tribal Chairman Dale Miller praised the city for its effort, noting all want to see Crescent City revitalized.
If granted the money will be used in conjunction with already approved Community Development Block Grant funding to revitalize all of Front Street. The CDBG funding will pay to reconstruct storm drains between B and G streets, resulting in the repaving of about half of Front Street
Wier said the project will be based on the Front Street Master Plan approved in 2012. However, the street itself will need a lot of work.
“From a pedestrian standpoint, it’s horrible,” he said, noting the roadway has four lanes and a turn lane. He explained the reason for the width is that when it was built, an area of what is now Beachfront Park was used to cast tetrapods that make up the south end of the jetty from Battery Point.
He said while the wide road was necessary for the tetrapod construction and equipment, it no longer meets the needs of the community.
“Today, we have beautiful Beachfront Park, we have soccer events going on, we have the Cultural Center, we have a hotel down here, we have a historic lighthouse that is a tourist attraction to people from all around the world,” he said. “So that’s where we took on this design back in 2011 and 2012 to take a look at the street and have the street meet the community’s needs.”
Wier also explained a reason for the street’s sinkholes is the former redwood drains underneath which are breaking down nearly 100 years later.
The Master Plan is similar in design to that of downtown Healdsburg and Cloverdale with narrower streets, walkable areas and visitor amenities.
Wier said the plan addresses parking on the street and safety concerns regarding children exiting cars during busy events. It also gives the visitor a transitional experience traveling from east to west with themes represented in artwork, signs, kiosks and fences.
A roundabout concept was previously removed from the plan due to cost estimates and insufficient traffic volume, he said.
However, a four-way stop with narrower lanes, walking areas and signs directing to local attractions and landmarks are included.
Showing prospective renderings of various areas along the street, Wier said the plan also includes designs for removable parade viewing bleachers and vendor areas. With the street narrowed to two lanes, a separated parking area along the street could be created.
Attendance was light but people still wrote ideas and comments on poster boards and maps of the proposed project area. Wier said public input will not only enhance the design but can help the grant application get approved.
Another workshop is scheduled for noon Thursday in the Cultural Center, 1001 Front St.
Comments can also be submitted online at DelNorteTransportation.Commonplace.is
by clicking the relevant street and adding them.