So, Astoria, ready for some more highway work?

The Oregon Department of Transportation's third local highway project this summer, the renovation of U.S. Highway 30 through town, is beginning.

Crews will grind down and repave Marine Drive and portions of Commercial Street from Smith Point to 33rd Street, and install new or replacement curbs and sidewalks. The $1.5 million project is scheduled to last into October.

Workers have been removing some of the old sidewalks around Mill Pond development, while other crews are drilling test holes on several side streets downtown to help determine the foundations needed for new traffic signals. Some work is also going on at night to upgrade electrical conduits for those signals.

The actual paving of the roadway is expected to begin in about two weeks, but will take place at night between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

With the nighttime schedule the agency hopes to minimize inconvenience for motorists already dealing with disruptions from the construction of the Smith Point Roundabout and the renovation of old Youngs Bay Bridge.

Relief is imminent on one of those projects - the old Youngs Bay Bridge is scheduled to reopen today, one week ahead of schedule (see related story).

"They will work all night - there will be no lane restrictions during the day," said ODOT Area Manager Kathy McMullen of the Highway 30 project.

The work schedule calls for the contractor to grind down and repave one section of the roadway each night. There may be some instances in which the paving cannot be done the same night, leaving a section rough for a day, McMullen said. The grinding will not take place after 10 p.m.

During the work, traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction through the work area. Affected businesses will be informed a week or so before work begins in front of their buildings, McMullen said.

The paving is expected to be completed by the end of August.

The project includes replacing cracked and broken curbs and sidewalks and installing them where none exist now, such as in front of the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be installed at all crosswalks, and some spaces for trees will be added.

Some unused driveways along the roadway will be closed, McMullen said. Affected property owners have been contacted and asked to contact ODOT's district office if they have concerns.

The test drilling for the traffic signals is taking place on Eighth, Ninth, 11th, 12th and 14th streets and will occur intermittently during weekdays through July, and involve some closures of the streets.

It wasn't ODOT's original intent to have three projects occuring simultaneously in Astoria. The old Youngs Bay Bridge project was originally scheduled for completion last year, but various problems, most notably the failure of the new paving material applied to the Lewis and Clark Bridge, led to postponements that pushed the project into 2002.

ODOT scheduled the work for early summer between the end of the school year and the Clatsop County Fair to avoid conflicts.

"We've tried to work with the community and put it at a time that causes the least inconvenience," McMullen said.

Weather is also a factor in the projects, especially on the bridge, which required several days of clear weather for the proper application of the special epoxy road surface on the lift span, she said.

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