19-06-12 River Street WEB.jpg

A four-block section of River Street in Hailey will get sidewalks and bike paths as well as other amenities.

The Hailey City Council approved conceptual designs Monday for a $4 million, four-block renovation of River Street between Walnut and Galena streets, and a new sidewalk from River Street to Hop Porter Park. However, complete funding for the project has not yet been secured.

Some business owners have expressed concerns over how the new street design and parking configuration will impact business.

Some residents will have to discontinue parking on the city right of way and develop new parking spaces on their private property, perhaps in alleys.

The Hailey Urban Renewal Agency, which has targeted the reconstruction of River Street as a primary goal, committed $250,000 for the project.

The River Street section would include angled parking, new lighting and bike paths and sidewalks on both sides of the street, separated by a planting strip with new trees every 40 feet.

The two-block Bullion Street section would consist of a sidewalk on the north side of the road, with cycling traffic included in the automobile travel lane.

The River Street upgrade has been in the works since 2010 when the city contracted with Harmony Design and Engineering for $41,943 in outreach and design work in anticipation of a Local Highway Technical Assistance Council grant, but the city instead dedicated its required matching funds to rebuild Woodside Boulevard.

About 2.5 miles of Woodside Boulevard was upgraded with a $3.3 million grant and about $800,000 in city funds.

The city has also spent $5,800 in concept design and public outreach for a more northern section of River Street.

In 2016, Hailey received a $1.85 million Local Highway Technical Assistance Council grant for the River Street project. The city was expecting to pay $150,000 in matching funds.

City Administrator Heather Dawson said that based on preliminary designs and study, the grant is now funded at $2.3 million. The city is expected to pay 7.6 percent of that cost, or $174,800.

Public Works Director Brian Yeager said the remaining $1.7 million could come from the Hailey Urban Renewal Agency’s $250,000 contribution and an Idaho Transportation Department Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grant.

Yeager said the URA funding will help the city qualify for the BUILD grant, and only be used if the grant application is successful.

Dawson said the design approval will allow engineers to work on more definitive cost estimates.

Final tweaking of the design to accommodate businesses and residents will take place in the future, Yeager said.

Keith and Janis Nelson, owners of Nelson’s Auto Service and Quick Lube at 115 S. River St., criticized the impact such an “aesthetic improvement” would have on their business.

“We accommodate our customers by lining up cars on the space between the road and our business services,” they wrote in a letter to the city.

The Nelsons pointed out that long sections of sidewalks on the recently renovated Woodside Boulevard are impassable in winter.

“The city can’t even keep up with the snow currently,” they wrote.

Complete designs for River Street are expected to be finished in spring 2020, with construction possibly taking place in 2020 or 2021.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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