The original deadline for completion of the West Main Street project has come and gone, with city officials now anticipating work to continue through the month of September. The longer than anticipated construction time is affecting West Main Street businesses and is expected to cause some confusion for Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy students (and their parents) returning to school on Monday.
The City of Turlock broke ground on the West Main Street project — Turlock’s first Measure L (countywide transportation tax) funded roads project — in July 2018. Work was expected to be completed by Aug. 1, before the school year starts. According to Interim Director of Development Services/City Engineer Nathan Bray, the project is now expected to be completed sometime this fall.
“Overall, the project is going as expected,” said Bray. “The City was anticipating some obstacles due to the size of the project and the area, and everything to date has been typical of repairing older infrastructure. West Main is one of the oldest roads in town and any time linking new infrastructure to existing conditions there can be complications.
“While it is difficult to state the actual completion of all the work, West Main is anticipated to be open to traffic by the end of September. Once West Main is paved there is still striping, raising of utility covers and traffic signal loop detectors that will require partial or full closures of the road depending on the location,” he continued.
The West Main Corridor project has two phases. Phase I included replacing medians and closing all but two median openings from S. Walnut Road to West Avenue South for better traffic control. The City also installed a wrought iron fence in the median adjacent to Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy, similar to the one in front of Turlock Junior High School, to encourage pedestrians to use the designated crosswalks.
Phase II, which started in April 2019, includes a complete reconstruction of West Main Street from West Avenue South to Lander Avenue. The project will also see a majority of the water, sewer and storm utilities on West Main removed and reinstalled due to age, size or location.
While 75 percent of the project has been completed, the age of the road has resulted in a few complications, according to Bray.
“The contractor has uncovered multiple unknown abandoned utility lines, very shallow existing utility lines that make it difficult to work near, unstable soil and two underground fuel storage tanks. The abandoned utility lines and the oil tanks have been the bigger unforeseen setbacks. To remove an abandoned oil tank there are many regulations and procedures that need to be followed to ensure there is no soil contamination. The mitigation of the tanks alone takes at minimum a few weeks. The second tank was recently discovered and the contractor is actively working on mitigating it,” said Bray.
The ongoing construction is expected to be a hindrance to students and staff trying to get to Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy when school resumes next week. The school sits on the corner of West Main Street and Soderquist Road.
According to Bray, the school’s drop off route is to use Soderquist Road which is open to traffic currently and will remain open. During paving operations, the contractor will use lane closures and flaggers so traffic will be able to continuously get to their destination. The City will also limit the contractor’s working hours near the school to 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on school days.
The extended construction time is also having a negative economic impact for businesses located on West Main Street.
Matty’s Market owner Neal Handosh said business is down 40 percent since construction began in front of his business, located on the corner of W. Main and Farr streets.
“We expected it to be worse, but thankfully our neighborhood has supported us strongly. We’re lucky because we have a street to give us access, and that has allowed us to stay in business,” said Handosh. “I went to all the meetings (about the West Main Street project) and was very nervous, but our customers are really loyal. I’m looking forward to it being done, however.”
Mid Valley Pawn owners Josh and Zach Gottlieb reached out to the Journal and said that they have seen a “slow down” in their business due to the lack of pass by traffic. The pawn shop is located at 270 W. Main St.
This is not the first time that a delay in road construction has caused problems for Turlock businesses.
In 2017, a three-month delay in the completion of the Fulkerth Road and N. Golden State Boulevard intersection project saw businesses lose tens of thousands of dollars in sales and even contributed to the closing of Restaurante Los Gallos after 10 years in business.
In August 2016, a section of Monte Vista Avenue west of Golden State Boulevard was closed as Union Pacific replaced its tracks and concrete panels within the crossing. Communication issues between the railroad and the City caused multiple construction delays and the intersection wasn’t complete until a week before Christmas.