Saturday, 25 May 2024

Burns Valley sidewalk project moves forward

CLEARLAKE – The Burns Valley Road area of Clearlake has long been a safety issue for those who travel along it by foot or bicycle, including the area's senior population. However, city officials say they're moving forward on a project that would install a walking and biking path along the road, which would significantly improve pedestrian safety safety.

The sidewalk project has been on the drawing board for about two years, said City Administrator Dale Neiman.

The current plan, according to a report Neiman gave to the City Council at its July 26 meeting, involves widening the existing street – which Neiman said is extremely narrow, at only about 24 feet wide – and installing curb, gutter and sidewalk.

Linda J. Burton, executive director of the Highlands Senior Center on Bowers Road, said in an interview Thursday that there are many senior housing complexes in the area – Walnut Grove, Autumn Village and Austin Manor, and the Orchard Park assisted living facility near the Redbud Library.

Many of those seniors travel back and forth between the Burns Valley Shopping Center, the senior center and their homes on foot, in wheelchairs or using scooters, Burton explained.

“A lot of them are walking along a little dirt path,” said Burton, with those who are unsteady on their feet walking on the pavement in the narrow street.

Because of those conditions, there's a great need for a sidewalk and crosswalks, said Burton.

“There are clearly some safety issues,” Neiman said at the council meeting, adding that he also has witnessed wheelchairs having to travel into the road's lanes.

But there have been several delays, including a discovery that the city's plan was going to cost $300,000, about $100,000 more than the total amount of the two grants the city had acquired to pay for the project.

Neiman's solution to the shortfall, which the council approved July 26, included dropping the curb, gutter, sidewalk and drainage improvements.

“If we build the curb, gutter and sidewalk and drainage improvements we would be adding about $200,000 to the value of the adjoining property because it would not have to be built when the property is developed,” Neiman's report stated.

Developer Robert Adelman will be required to make the improvements as he builds the nearby Lake Glenn Subdivision, Neiman said in a Thursday interview.

The city's revised plan calls for building a 6-foot-wide asphalt pedestrian/bike lane along the street's west side, which will be delineated with yellow lines and a bike lane strip.

The bike lane will narrow to 4 and a half feet in width at the Burns Valley intersection so the city can avoid the cost of extending or replacing the culvert, Neiman reported.

In addition, rather that reconstructing sections of both lanes of the road, the city will only reconstruct a portion of the road's west travel lane, Neiman's staff report noted.

The City Council unanimously approved Neiman's suggested revisions, with council members stating their concerns for the safety of seniors traveling along the road.

Mayor Judy Thein met with interim City Engineer Bob Galusha at the site Wednesday, where she said he answered several of her concerns, including the width of the bike lane/walking path at the culvert.

Thein said she had wanted the path wider than the proposed 4 and a half feet when the path reaches the culvert, but said when Galusha showed her measurements at the site, and explained that Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance requires only 3 feet, she said she was satisfied.

The project will include crosswalks from nearby senior housing complexes to the senior center and to the pedestrian walkway, a guardrail to keep people from falling into the creek, and new ADA-compliant curbs, Thein explained.

Thein said the work will be geared toward senior safety as they travel to and from the senior center and the Burns Valley Mall.

The project, said Thein, has been important to her since she joined the council, and her goal is that it's completed as soon as possible. Seniors trying to navigate the area “just cannot go through another winter like they have been,” she said.

Neiman said the construction plans will need to be revised, which will take about six weeks.

The city still has a few other obstacles to overcome, he said. Those include getting easements from a nearby property owner, who received the deeds from the city about a month ago but hasn't returned them.

In addition, Adelman – who is being required to replace a culvert that crosses Burns Valley Road at the intersection near the senior center – hasn't obtained the necessary approvals from the city or the funding. In that case, Neiman said the city could allocate $50,000 to do the work and have Adelman reimburse the city later.

Neiman said Adelman hasn't yet given the city a time frame about when he plans to move forward on the Lake Glenn Subdivision development or the attendant sidewalk improvements. He said Adelman has finalized his construction drawings and is working on project financing, but most likely will miss this years building season.

Neiman said the city also needs the assistance of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) to move some power poles along the route.

At the City Council meeting, Neiman said he had not received word back from PG&E when the pole relocations might be possible.

Jana Schuering, a spokesperson for PG&E's North Bay and North Coast regions, said the company is in the process of estimating the project, which she said should be done by Aug. 9. At that time, the company will schedule a crew to relocate the power poles.

If everything moves forward smoothly from this point, Neiman said they'll go to bid after the plans are revised and, hopefully, have the project complete by October or November.

“That would be a great benefit to seniors living in this area,” said Burton.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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