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Downtown streetscaping advances 

Starting in June, the city Parking Authority's gradual march to redo downtown continues with the Pioneers Museum block.

The project, which will cost up to $350,000 in parking revenue, includes changing light poles and lights to LED; replacing sod with brick pavers between the curbs and sidewalks; adding pedestrian walkways; and replacing curbs and gutters on Vermijo and Nevada avenues.

The most troublesome traffic tie-up during the summer project, says parking manager Greg Warnke, will be on Tejon Street, which likely will lose its southbound left-turn lane temporarily to accommodate construction. But crews won't be digging trenches here or elsewhere for the light replacements; rather, they'll bore underground.

Generally, he says, "We don't have to dig the streets up, so we don't have to impact traffic."

The project also will save maintenance money in the long run, Warnke says. "The net effect of the square footage [of sod] that needs to be watered, we're cutting it down by 70 percent," he says. Planting beds created at the pedestrian bump-outs will have low-water plants, and the LED lights "cost a heckuva lot less to run than those high-pressure sodiums," Warnke notes.

It's part of a years-long overhaul of downtown's streetscape, in which the Downtown Partnership and Downtown Development Authority have consulted.

"These streetscape improvements are an essential part of the ongoing efforts to make downtown more walkable, bikeable, attractive and accessible to everyone," Downtown Partnership executive Susan Edmondson says via email.

Last year, Xeriscaped islands were installed along Nevada north of Cucharras Street, as well as street pavers and new lighting.

It's unknown what project will be done during 2015, Warnke says. "We work with the Downtown Partnership and the Development Authority and other city departments to evaluate the infrastructure that needs to be repaired," he says. "It has to fall into the parking realm, where we have parking meters, so it benefits our parking customers. We look for the biggest bang for our dollar."

Bid deadline for the museum block work is May 29. The contract will be awarded in mid-June and the project completed by mid-September, Warnke says.

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