Anyone who drives Ski Hill Drive on a regular basis knows it is a rather bumpy ride, and without question, sorely in need of repair. This was clearly evident to a member of state Transportation Improvement Board (TIB), as she toured Leavenworth recently.
"We actually had applied for other TIB funding, and when she was out here looking at the other grant we had applied for, she noticed Ski Hill," said Joel Walinski, Leavenworth city administrator.
TIB had money left over from projects that had come in under budget, he said. What TIB has done over the past couple years is make money available to communities that have poor pavement, a project already planned, and money to match.
"They informed us of this and we signed off right away. We provided a letter that said we could make a grant match, which is 5 percent of the $300,000 or $15,000. We are using Transportation Benefit District dollars for that."
At the November TIB meeting, the decision was made to fund the Leavenworth Ski Hill project. Walinski calls it "very good news for Leavenworth."
The city was already planning to work on Ski Hill Drive next year, thanks to a $198,000 grant from the Regional Transportation Board, out of Wenatchee. With this money, the city was planning to fix the intersections along Ski Hill Drive, where most of the bumps are located.
"We were going to, at every intersection, lower the catch basin, lower the manholes and basically make those intersections flatter than they are," he said. "We are going to do that from Highway 2 to Pine Street. That was our initial project. We are still going to do that, because at the end of the day, that needs to be done."
With the additional money, Walinski said they will be able to grind the outside edges of the pavement and lay down a new two-inch asphalt mat from U.S. Highway 2 to Pine Street. Walinski said this will greatly improve the drivability, plus give the roadway better drainage.
The total project cost is $498,000, which will be combined with the city's Safe Routes to School project.
The site of the old Leavenworth Fruit Warehouse debuted as a parking lot over the first Christmas Lighting weekend. First, a number of things had to be done to prepare the site.
Pipkin Construction, Walinski said, did a nice job of getting big chunks removed, leaving the concrete in decent shape.
"What we did after that was go along a number of the rough areas with structural steel sticking out. We cut those out to get a nice, flat surface. We also used our street sweeper to clean up all that was left out there, so any nails have been removed," he said. "Then, the guys came in and did some painting and striping. It keeps it more organized."
A jersey barrier was installed on the eastern end, where there is a significant drop. Also, some temporary lights have been put up for use on the busy weekends in December. Walinski said they have talked to the PUD about lighting in the lower lot too.
Even though there is ambient light from the nearby street lights, Walinski said people feel just a little more secure with the additional light. The construction fence will also remain in place during the month, he said.
"This is just a temporary setting. We want to see how it goes. It's going to be practice for us to see how things go over the Christmas Lighting weekends. It will give us an indication of the traffic and how it affects Highway 2," he said. "We'll be having additional traffic turning off at the warehouse location. I will be interested to see how that works."
The cost for parking is $10 per day. The old warehouse lot is providing 156 additional parking spaces. Walinski figures they should fill it up. Typically, when there are events downtown, people go searching for parking in the residential area.
This leads to a high amount of people crossing the highway into downtown. Walinski hopes the new parking will cut down on the number of pedestrians parking in the residential areas.
"It's amazing where people drive to park when given the opportunity," he said.
Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or email@example.com.