Main improvements to the long-awaited realignment of Kelso’s West Main Street are set to be completed Monday, as Longview crews continue to repair roads and sidewalks that buckled during last summer’s extreme heat.
Construction on phase two of the West Main Street improvement project has started and drivers are asked to use alternate routes.
West Main Street wraps up
The last section of West Main Street’s realignment will be mainly finished by Monday. Crews are scheduled to stripe the newly widened Catlin Street in Kelso and finish programming traffic lights over the weekend, said Kelso Community Development Director Michael Kardas. The work will essentially complete the roughly 12-year-old project, aside from minor tasks.
Catlin Street turns into West Main Street, then Allen Street as drivers move east through Kelso.
Kardas said traffic lights where Catlin Street turns into Ocean Beach Highway will work better after the road is striped because a radar will more accurately detect vehicles in order to change signals. The flashing red lights at Catlin Street and Fifth Avenue Southwest also are expected to correctly run through green, yellow and red by Monday, he added.
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Kardas said the realignment of West Main Street from the Allen Street Bridge to Catlin Street was the first project he worked on when he joined the city. The overall goal of the project, reports the city, has been to reduce congestion and beautify the area, while Kardas added the realignment provides an alternative route between Kelso and Longview and more access to downtown Kelso.
“It is completely, dramatically visually different than it was,” Kardas said about the new corridor.
The second phase of the two-phase project widened Catlin Street through Cowlitz Way from the original two lanes to five lanes including a left turn lane at the Cowlitz Way intersection, and cost around $11.45 million.
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The project’s first phase, from the west side of the Allen Street Bridge through the crossover to Catlin at Fourth Avenue, was completed in 2013, according to the city. Kardas said the city likely will hold a ribbon cutting for the project, but nothing is scheduled yet.
Repairing Longview heat damage
Longview crews are tearing out a section of the sidewalk at Washington Way and 10th Avenue near Victorico’s Mexican Food that buckled during last summer’s extreme heat. Longview Public Works Director Ken Hash said concrete will be poured once additional nearby sidewalk repairs are ready to be poured.
An emergency declaration in Longview will help the city receive federal aid to repair road damage caused by record-breaking June heat.
Hash said last summer’s roughly 108-degree days caused some sidewalks and five sections of local roads to buckle. He said concrete and pavement contracts during extreme cold temperatures and expands during extreme heat, causing the concrete and pavement to butt against each other “until something’s got to give,” and the material buckles under the force.
Heat also affected roads at the intersections of 30th Avenue and Fir Street, 30th Avenue and Garfield Street, 28th Avenue and Beech Street, 15th Avenue and Commerce, and in the middle of the 1000 block on 15th Avenue.
Hash said Longview is hiring a second road repair crew to tackle concrete work, grading alleys and paving asphalt, which may speed up repairs.