Last summer, the City of Healdsburg embarked on one of its largest capital improvement projects in decades – the Healdsburg Avenue Improvements or HAI. This project, first identified in the Central Healdsburg Avenue Plan, is intended to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety while enhancing the gateway experience coming into downtown Healdsburg. Before this work could be completed, decades old sewer pipes, water lines, storm drains, gas lines and overhead utilities need to be replaced or upgraded. These improvements involve work under Healdsburg Avenue, East and West Mill Streets, and Vine Street – covering a significant area in the entrance to our downtown.
Work from the project’s start in June 2016 has focused on:
- Demolition of the former gas station on Healdsburg Avenue
- Installation of an Interim Roundabout to allow traffic to continue to flow through this area during construction
- Removal and replacement of the Foss Creek Culvert which provides drainage from Foss Creek out of downtown
- The replacement of the City’s 36” sewage pipe, at up to a depth of 17 feet, which is 90% complete
- Replacement and consolidation of water lines of varying ages and locations, into a more efficient distribution network
Under the best of conditions, this is an incredibly complex project. The unique conditions and challenges and constraints of working on old and fragile utilities were described in the bid documents provided to all the construction firms who submitted a bid and deemed qualified to complete the work. California General Construction Code requires all cities to take the lowest qualified bidder on any Public Works construction project. The selected contractor – Bay Cities – was the lowest bidder of the four bids received and met all the qualification requirements to be awarded the contract.
While this project is behind schedule, it is critical the project is done right as the City's infrastructure must meet the test of time.
Moving forward, work will include:
- Storm drain replacement beginning this month on Mill Street, including removal and replacement of older pipes and inlets with new strategies for environmentally responsible stormwater treatment via ‘rain gardens’ and other low impact (LID) strategies
- Overhead or dry utilities to underground all overhead power and communication lines in the project area. The plans for this are complete and are out to bid with work anticipated to begin this fall.
- Grading and paving, including curb, gutters, roadways and sidewalks, anticipated to start in spring of 2018, subject to completion of all site utility work.
The City has continued to work with merchants throughout the downtown who are being impacted by this important project. A new banner system, developed in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce was installed last fall and will continue to be expanded. An Advisory Committee made up of business owners and the Chamber meets monthly with the project team to hear updates, share concerns and discuss new ideas to minimize disruption in the downtown.
While the City and businesses recognize this is a trying time, most appreciate the important transformation this will make for Healdsburg’s downtown. New backbone infrastructure for the City’s next 50 years, improved traffic flow at the Mill and Healdsburg Avenue intersection, increased safety for pedestrians wanting to access businesses south of the old ‘five way’, and an improved appearance entering Healdsburg will result when this project is completed next year.
For more information on the HAI or to receive regular updates visit healdsburgaveimprovements.com.