Downtown street concepts OK’d

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SANDPOINT — The downtown core now has a blueprint for the future.

City Council members voted Wednesday night to approve the 90-page concept guidelines for downtown streets that unifies the region with integrated traffic flow and aesthetic approaches. Members also requested that Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency prioritize funding on two projects: improvements along Third and Fourth avenues and right-of-way acquisition and design for a roundabout at First Avenue and Superior Street .  

Developed since early this year by SERA, a firm based in Portland, Ore., the guide covers downtown design in a variety of areas by defining street types, establishing traffic strategies, improving pedestrian and bicyclist access to the lake, setting the look, feel and functionality of First Avenue  and Cedar Street and providing easier navigation and artistic flair through district gateways. Council members praised project director Allison Wildman for her and her team’s thorough work before adopting the concept plan.

“I’d like to compliment you on a job very well done,” Councilwoman Carrie Logan said.

Officials paid special attention to the Superior Street and First Avenue roundabout, which city staff and residents alike identified as a necessary improvement for safety and visual enhancement, according to Wildman.

“If there was any kind of unanimous community thumbs-up, it was the roundabout at First and Superior,” she said.

The addition serves as a gateway into the downtown core, a safety mechanism and a means of traffic control. According to the concept guide, city officials could take several different approaches when fleshing out the design.

The “natural flow” roundabout is designed to welcome traffic into Sandpoint with a center decked out with pools, native stone and a decorative sign.

“While it is recognized that a feature such as this presents certain funding and technical issues to overcome, it would be an attractive and iconic scene right at the entrance to downtown,” the guide reads.

Alternatively, the “sculptural waves” roundabout uses colorful steel panels arranged in a radial pattern and surrounding a conifer, which could be used as the town’s official Christmas tree.

In addition to the roundabout, the council members also requested that SURA prioritize design and funding on improvements for Third and Fourth avenues. These enhancements include paving, infrastructure, bikeway improvements between Church and Pine streets. The project maintains existing curb lines while shifting right-of-way for wider sidewalks, storm water planters and angled and parallel parking.

These projects are emphasized because they have no connection to the construction of the U.S. 2 “Curve” extension.

While the top priorities are now set, the concept guide also includes a host of improvements and ideas to be implemented at a later date.

“I think a lot of these projects have enough inertia to be design and completed within the next five years,” Wildman said.

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