Oroville Pedestrian Project receives funding

OROVILLE – A new sidewalk following the east side of Highway 97 and connecting Oroville’s northern and southern city limits will be built thanks to more than $1 million in federal stimulus money.

The pedestrian project was first envisioned in 2005, with original designs done in 2006. However, the project had to wait until funding became available. At one point it looked like the city would have to do the project in two phases. Oroville was approved for $863,000 in federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds and the state gave verbal approval for approximately $124,000 for local share. However, the state withdrew their offer due to the current budget crunch.

“We quickly applied for federal stimulus funding and we got them because there is a need to fund pedestrian projects,” said Kathy Jones, Oroville’s Clerk-Treasurer.

The sidewalk will be on the east side of Main Street/Highway 97 and where possible will have a 12-foot buffer between the highway and the sidewalk so in the future it won’t have to be removed to allow for turn lanes or parking, according to Jones.

In those areas in town, like the downtown corridor and in front of the U.S. Border Patrol Station where sidewalks already exists, the new sidewalk will be joined to the existing sidewalk. In some areas of the project curbs and gutters will be constructed.

USKH, the firm hired to do the project, was out surveying on the south end of town last week in preparation of the start of construction this spring.

The city will have $1.9 million available to do the project, with $1,055,000 coming from the federal stimulus funds, according to Jones.

In another transportation related matter, Tom Hanson, with the Public Transportation Division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, appeared before the city council to discuss public transportation in Okanogan County. He is asking people to fill out surveys that are available at Oroville City Hall and the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune office and to fill them out and mail them to him in Wenatchee.

The survey is being conducted by the Okanogan County Public Transportation Improvement Conference. It is intended to help elected officials in the county and neighboring areas determine if a public transportation system would be beneficial.

The first question asks where the survey taker lives. It goes on to ask what the respondents most frequent trips are for, i.e. work, shopping, medical appointments, school or school activity or attending a social gathering or event. It also asks about where the most frequent trips are to and how one usually gets there. Other questions are concerned with how often one travels, whether they would use public transportation and if they would you be willing to pay a small tax, like five cents or less on a $10 purchase to help subsidize its operation.