In the next year, projects throughout the city will give Salem pedestrians safer places to walk and exercise, by repairing sidewalks and adding pathways.
In November, voters approved a $300 million infrastructure package that focused the majority of its spending on improving streets, sidewalks and parks over the next decade.
Major city projects using infrastructure bond funding, state and federal grants, and city funds, include a skate park, a microgrid and crosswalk protections.
The city’s capital improvement plan lays out the city’s expected projects for the next five years. The plan will go before the city council for adoption on June 26.
“The (capital improvement plan) should be considered a planning document and not necessarily a construction schedule,” said city spokesman Trevor Smith in an email to Salem Reporter. Delays might happen with varying funding and grant availability, and factors like inflation and contractor availability.
Below are some projects coming to Salem neighborhoods in 2024, according to the plan. The city also has an interactive map of upcoming projects to explore what’s next.
Geer Community Park
Major improvements at Geer Community Park will give skaters, athletes and dogs more space to play.
Upcoming improvements to the 44-acre park will total around $4.6 million, using state grants and city funds. The park has also seen $2.2 million in funds in recent years.
Early plans include pathed pathways, a skate park, a spectator viewing plaza and a sheltered picnic area, using $1 million split between funds from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and Park System Development Charges which the city collects as fees from new construction.
Construction is expected to begin next year and last until 2026, according to the improvement plan.
Geer Community Park, at 241 Geer Dr. N.E., has baseball and soccer fields used for youth and adult sports, along with walking paths.
The city is also planning to spend $80,000 to acquire nearby state land to expand the park and add public pedestrian access through the nearby State Hospital campus.
Over a three year period, the city plans to spend $3.5 million to renovate its two baseball fields and two soccer fields. Plans also include off-leash areas with separate sections for large and small dogs.
The funds will also add natural turf, additional seating and more shaded areas and trash cans.
Pathways along Pringle Creek
Major walking and biking improvements are planned alongside Pringle Creek, which runs along Southeast Pringle Road and along Bush’s Pasture Park on its way to the Willamette River.
A $35.5 million project, which is planned to see $5.3 million in the next year, will improve bike lanes, curbs, sidewalks and drainage on Southeast McGilchrist Street. The project will also replace bridges on the east and west forks of Pringle Creek, and realign and add signals on Southeast 22nd Street.
Most of the funding comes from the infrastructure bond and a state transportation department grant contributing around $13 million each. The remainder comes from utility rates and the urban renewal agency taxes.
Between 2024 and 2028, the city plans to spend $3.6 million to design a pedestrian bridge underneath the Southeast Commercial Street. bridge, with a pathway along the creek and an art wall. Full construction would depend on grant availability in future years, according to the improvement plan.
The city plans to spend $1.1 million to stabilize and restore the sides of the creek from Southeast Jones Road. to Southeast Idylwood Drive, using utility rate funding.
The city also plans $3 million worth of improvements, most during fiscal year 2025, to strengthen the bridge over Pringle Creek at Southeast Mission St., and bridges over Mill Creek at Southeast 15th Street. and Northeast 17th Street.
Another $4 million between 2024 and 2025 is planned to design and build a railroad culvert, which allows water to pass under the tracks, at West Fork Pringle Creek and replace the McGilchrist Culvert.
Minto-Brown Island parking lots
In April, the city began preparing to pave two parking lots at Minto-Brown Island Park for a smoother ride, and to improve bicycle parking and pedestrian walkways connecting to the lots.
The project will cost $1.5 million, funded by the infrastructure bond.
The project will repave parking lot #2 by the dog park, and the main lot, #3. Along with paving, the project will add landscaping and make accessibility upgrades.
Funds will also go to improve drainage, allowing collection of stormwater runoff from the newly paved areas.
Construction is planned to start this fall, according to a news release from the city.
The park’s playground will also get some new equipment from the bond later, and better drainage in that area. The project will cost a total of $600,000 using bond funds, with the majority of spending in 2025.
Final construction at the public works building
The city’s new $39 million Public Works Operations Building is nearing completion, with a remaining $2.2 million planned in fiscal year 2024 for final construction.
The project replaces the converted 1950s warehouse that employees currently use, which former director Peter Fernandez described as a cold and dank vintage space with a leaky roof.
The building is scheduled to be complete in late October, said Smith.
A solar-powered grid would be the first “community microgrid” in the state, with the ability to also power six apartment buildings, 34 homes, four government buildings and one business nearby during outages.
The city plans to use a $1 million grant from the Oregon Department of Energy to design and build a community microgrid, which would provide emergency power for the Public Works Operations Building and others on Southeast 23rd Street.
Various projects with funding planned in the next year aim to improve pedestrian and driver safety throughout the city.
A $1.4 million package from state and federal funding will improve crosswalks and build crossing islands around the city, including at State Street at Southeast 21st Street, Northeast Lancaster Drive at Northeast Weathers Street and North River Road at Northeast Rivera Drive.
At the intersection of Southeast 25th Street and State Street, a $1 million project will improve pedestrian visibility.
A project totaling $2.3 million will widen sections of Northwest Orchard Heights Road, and build a pedestrian island at Northwest Parkway Drive. It will also add space for drivers making a left turn onto Northwest Parkway Drive.
Funding is also set aside each year for sidewalk and crosswalk improvements suggested by the city’s public outreach process and approved by city council.
A $3 million project is planned to fix the pavement on Southeast Commercial Street, between Southeast Fabry Road. and the I-5 ramp, and on Liberty Street between Southeast Mill Street and Southeast Trade Street.
Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.
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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.