'Circulation' returns to Port Angeles waterfront
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Roland Ordona of Primo Construction prepares to remove a traffic barricade from Railroad Avenue in downtown Port Angeles on Wednesday.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — A pathway for pedestrians and car-flow through the city's downtown waterfront area has been restored after being closed to both foot and vehicular traffic since mid-June.

Crews with Primo Construction Inc. of Carlsborg on Wednesday removed construction fences from the stretch of North Oak Street north of Front Street after a little more than a month of work replacing the sidewalks on either side of the road and laying down a new road surface.

“Our circulation is back,” said Edna Petersen, owner of Necessities and Temptations gift shop at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Laurel Street, referring to Oak Street connecting once again to Railroad Avenue.

The work is part of the city's larger downtown $3.9 million esplanade project, which involves improving Oak Street and West Railroad Avenue, and building a concrete promenade extending over the shoreline parallel to Railroad Avenue.

City Public Works Director Glenn Cutler said vehicles and pedestrians now will be able to access West Railroad Avenue from both North Laurel Street and the newly improved section of Oak Street.

Construction fences will remain on the north side of Railroad Avenue as work continues on the concrete esplanade, Cutler added.

Nathan West, the city's community and economic development director, said the esplanade project is still on track to be completed by the end of the summer.

Petersen, a 15-year veteran of her store space at 217 N. Laurel St., said the esplanade project, underway since October, has particularly impacted her business and Pacific Rim Hobby at the corner of West Railroad Avenue and North Oak Street.

“If it weren't for our loyal customers, we'd have to close our doors a long time ago,” Petersen said, adding that she's looking forward to the visual boost the project will give to the downtown.

Greg Scherer, owner of Pacific Rim Hobby, echoed Petersen's sentiment about regular customers keeping him afloat, though he said's he's nothing but thrilled now that the last piece of closed road for the project is finally opened.

“I have the fanciest corner in Clallam County,” Scherer said.

Scherer said Wednesday that he already has seen pedestrians use the newly opened Oak Street sidewalk to get to Railroad Avenue and head east.

“Immediately, people are using it,” Scherer said.

“The [road closed] signs go down, [and] boom, people are using it.”

Tom Curry, owner of the Barhop brewery and taproom at 124 W. Railroad Ave., said Wednesday he had enjoyed solid business through the months of June and July, though he is looking forward to the improved Oak Street restoring the course of foot and car traffic past his business.

“I think Oak will be an enhancement for traffic flows, so yeah, we're looking forward to it,” Curry said.

The improved portion of Railroad Avenue and its two sidewalks opened in early June after having been closed since work on the esplanade project began last fall.

West said the city wants to thank the businesses along Railroad Avenue who made their concerns clear to city staff as business owners weathered the construction delays and blockages.

“We care deeply about the businesses along Railroad, and we want to gain that circulation back to the street system down there,” West said.

Construction crews have more light fixtures and aesthetics touches, such as signs directing pedestrians and bicyclists along the Waterfront Trail as it runs along the esplanade, to install before the esplanade is open to the public, West explained.

The trail sign installations might close down the section of sidewalk on North Railroad for a day or two, West said, but no other work is expected to impact pedestrian or vehicle traffic on Railroad Avenue or Oak Street.

Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 31. 2013 6:07PM
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