Phase one of Chula Vista’s facelift along Third Avenue should be complete by the end of next month, according to city staff.
During an update on the city’s streetscape project at a Feb. 14 Northwest Civic Association meeting, Chula Vista principal civil engineer Kirk Ammerman said residents and business owners will begin to see many rapid fixes.
“Basically, over the next five or six weeks you’re going to see a lot of things happening with trees or planting being completed to the point where most of what we’ll have left is a final seal coat and stripping (for pavement),” he said.
The project has been in the works for several years but didn’t break ground until last year, battling a struggling economy, rejection of grants and the decision by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011 to eliminate California redevelopment agencies, cutting funding to city projects.
“We originally had hoped to go all the way to E Street, but redevelopment agencies disappeared,” Ammerman said.
In October 2011, the Chula Vista City Council voted unanimously to reject a single bid from current contractor 3-D Enterprises for nearly $5 million, which was to be used in addition to $2.5 million in redevelopment funds for the project.
Up until about a year ago, the city was still grappling with how to fund the project, in order to stimulate investment, bring revitalization and economic vitality to the downtown area.
Staff later directed council to apply for a Community Development Block Grant and capital improvement grants totaling $750,000 (for two years), as well as appropriate $400,000 from the balance of the traffic signal fund.
“That $375,000 is set aside for staff costs that we’re incurring during the current phase,” Ammerman said.
In addition, the Third Avenue Village Association agreed to provide up to $100,000 for phase one of the project to get it moving.
Last year TAVA was forced to cancel the city’s annual Starlight Parade because of safety concerns for pedestrians during rennovation. In its place, the organization debuted its Holiday in the Village event Dec. 1.
Although the project suffered significant revisions to phase one, being scaled down as far as distance and scope of work, it allowed for improvements from H to F streets.
Phase one improvements include narrowed lanes from four to two, shorter crossings, improved pedestrian and multi-modal accessibility, wider sidewalks for outdoor dining, energy efficient pedestrian lighting, street trees and new directories.
Once the first phase is complete, the contractor will enter into a one-year agreement for plant maintenance.
“TAVA agreed to take over permanent maintenance upon turnover by the city once we accept the work from the contractor,” Ammerman said.
Approximately $2.5 million is needed to complete the second phase of the project.
The city does not currently have the funds, however staff is hoping for a $2 million TransNet smart growth grant from the San Diego Association of Governments.
“If we got the money right now, we would be in construction in about a year from now, which would take about six to eight months,” Ammerman said.
So far, traffic signal improvements have been made to slow traffic down, making it safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Also, stainless steel bollards were installed for increased pedestrian safety in case a vehicle strays off the road. They are designed to stop a large truck traveling 30 miles an hour, according to Ammerman.
“We’re very cognizant of the impact of the businesses and we’re doing the best we can to minimize the (construction) impact to them,” Ammerman said. “When we do traffic studies, we look at what’s projected. We really analyze for the worst case scenario.”
The City Council approved the final design for the streetscape master plan in March 2011, based mostly on the city’s original Urban Core Specific Plan, envisioned to create a modern public transit system, improved bikeway facilities and walkable neighborhoods.
The contractor is currently working to complete the remainder of the paving between G and H streets as well as work along the medians.
Ammerman said the city and the contractor worked to have the least amount of disruption to the residents and businesses.
“We worked out some of the kinks with the contractor to have less impact to the public,” Ammerman said. “We looked at how to keep two lanes at all times through the construction zone.”