Bingen's State Route 14 repaving project is back in the fast lane.
On Monday, KLB Construction Co.'s grinding and paving crews moved back into the area to complete the highway work. As a result, traffic is restricted to one lane and motorists can expect to encounter some delays in the downtown area.
"It will be one-lane traffic for the next three weeks," explained Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel.
Workers will grind off the old asphalt through the entire downtown business district along SR 14 (from Maple Street to Willow Street), then repave. The grinding and initial paving downtown is scheduled for completion by the end of the week -- May 14.
"They will take out bad asphalt and re-establish the profile," said Prigel. "It's more cost to grind it all, but it takes less time as opposed to doing patches here and there."
Parking in the business district will be restricted while the crews are working, and some businesses, including the Taqueria and Mirror Image, planned to shut down for a day or two rather than fight the snarls.
"If people can't get in here, there's no point," said Mirror Image owner Bob Dobyne. "Everybody else is closing. Let the workers do their thing."
A news release from Bingen City Hall stated that the crews plan to start at Maple Street, and move west from there.
"KLB Construction and its contractors will be working in the construction area from the Hood River Bridge to the east city limits over approximately the next month to complete the project, which includes concrete repair, pavement repair, paving, installation of crosswalks in Bingen, landscaping, and completion of the Bingen irrigation system," read an excerpt from the release. "Business employees and customers are asked not to park within areas of construction during the pavement repair and paving process."
The final layer of paving is supposed to be completed by the end of May, depending on the weather.
"We're hoping that everything, including the final paving, will be done by the end of May," Prigel said.
He added that if weather turns cool or rainy, the work could be held up. He said crews needed a minimum surface temperature of 55 degrees to do the paving properly.
Prigel said the paving was held up in part because a subcontractor had not yet successfully completed installing an irrigation system to water the city's new downtown trees.
"Crews are working dawn to dusk on the irrigation lines," Prigel said. "We held a sledgehammer over their heads and gave them a drop-dead date of today (May 7) to get the work done."
On Saturday, Bingen's engineer, Mike Wellman, said the irrigation system had been successfully pressure-tested.
"It's functional for water leakage and pressure reading on the pipes," Wellman said. "I wanted to make sure everything was OK, and make sure there were no leaks under the sidewalk or pavement."
Wellman added that the irrigation system would be under warranty in the event repairs are required in the future.
"We were reluctant to allow any pavement to go down until we were sure the irrigation system would function," Prigel added. "And the irrigation crews can't be working in the area where the pavement crews will be working, for safety reasons and to make it easier for the pavement crews to do their job. But ultimately, my concern is that we want to know they won't have to dig up new pavement to get to valves or breaks."
According to Prigel, the landscaping crews have had to fix more than 70 breaks in the irrigation pipes.
"In most of the cases, but not all, the concrete guys drove form stakes through the irrigation pipes while they were putting in the new sidewalks. It was either miscommunication, or, I don't know exactly," Prigel said.