Umatilla to Improve Foot Traffic Access to Downtown

Umatilla Projects
The city of Umatilla is planning a streetscape project along Sixth Street that will improve foot traffic access to downtown Umatilla from Yerxa Avenue to the Umatilla Bridge.

From one side of town to the other, streets in Umatilla will take on a new look in the near future as plans move forward on three separate construction projects.

Last week, the city kicked off preliminary surveys for a streetscape design and engineering project on Sixth Street. The streetscape project will improve foot traffic access to downtown Umatilla from Yerxa Avenue to the Umatilla Bridge.

Among the improvements are adding bicycle lanes to both sides of Sixth Street and expanding sidewalks to include curb extensions, plant trees and add historic style lighting fixtures.

A $400,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation will cover the design of the project, and city official have said they hope to receive another grant to help cover construction. Umatilla City Manager Bob Ward said public hearings will begin soon, and the project would be open to some revision to “flesh out” concepts based on public response.

The downtown streetscape project isn’t the only one planned in Umatilla. The city of Umatilla and the Umatilla School District recently re-engineered a planned project to improve traffic flow around McNary Heights Elementary. The organizations have received a Safe Routes to School grant.

The redesigned project includes a bus lane directly in front of the school with a raised sidewalk separating the bus area from the parent and visitor parking lot. The parking lot will also be separated from traffic on Columbia Boulevard by a six-foot sidewalk and bike lane. Currently, some parking spaces at the school require traffic to back up onto the boulevard.

In addition to the work at McNary, the city and school district have each committed funds to restoring some portions of the Safe Routes to School project cut because of cost increases. The joint project will most likely include new and improved lighting along the walking trail from South Hill to the secondary school campuses.

Next month, the Umatilla City Council will also hear a presentation on a third construction project. In February, representatives from the Oregon Department of Transportation will introduce the council to a proposed Powerline Road/U.S. Highway 730 Intersection Realignment.

The planned realignment will move the intersection to the west of the current intersection, according to Ward. The intersection move will allow for a left turn lane and will improve sight distance for traffic entering onto Highway 730 from Powerline Road.