There were many thank yous to go around Friday morning at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 89 in Greenville. After a long spring and summer of demolition and construction, Caltrans District 2 Director Dave Moore emceed the ribbon cutting and acknowledged the literal long, rough road it had taken to get them there.
Moore spoke of the eight years it took to get to the smooth even street below them and the sidewalks to the side of them. He singled out former county Supervisor Robert Meacher and current Supervisor Kevin Goss as instrumental in getting the project moving and pushed through to completion.
Goss spoke nostalgically of moving to Greenville in the early 70s and knowing that even then the streets had needed repair. He thanked the streetscape committee for their diligence and Meacher for having the vision. Goss invited Meacher up to the podium to speak.
“If you have heart behind it, you can make something work,” said Meacher.
Goss thanked and singled out downtown business owners for their patience and input through the whole project and reiterated that his own downtown business was challenged during the dustiest days of summer without roads or sidewalks.
Leanne Schramel represented the Streetscape Committee, which had been meeting twice a month for over eight years to see the project to fruition. They are also overseeing the continuing work along Main Street itself.
Schramel stressed that the key points in the rehabilitation had been safety. She audibly choked up describing a neighbor of hers who had been killed crossing the street prior to crosswalks being put in. Schramel spoke of children and grandparents now being able to cross safely.
Schramel thanked a long list of community members who had helped along the way. Former Feather River Publishing staff writer Alicia Knadler was given a shout-out for photographing and publishing unsafe sidewalks and roads during her tenure.
She spoke of an initial block grant secured by Meacher, which enabled the initial design to begin.
Schramel spoke of the many aspects involved in the planning, including signage, benches, a gazebo and all the positive feedback the committee had received regarding the project.
“I know people hear the word beautification, but we were really about safety. Drainage is fixed. Sidewalks are fixed. Utility is underground,” Schramel said.
She thanked many from Caltrans and designers and ended with, “Thanks to all the people who believe in Greenville.”
Josh Huddleston, representing the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce, brought an economic and tourist perspective to the new streetscape. Most people, he said, like the new look and are “proud of our community, welcome new business by putting our best foot forward. Pedestrians are welcome and now people can stroll through town.” He cited visitors to his store from out of town who had done just that.
Greenville High School’s student body president Emma Sordi, flanked by vice president, MacKenzie Brown and secretary Destiny Potts, gave a brief, impassioned speech saying she was “optimistic it will kick off more positive changes,” in Greenville and was happy to see Greenville “joining the 21st century.”
Stacey Barnes, the Caltrans project manager, spoke of the arduous tasks that were presented them in the project and the design challenges of working within an historic area of town with a host of pre-standard issues. She presented Ron Collins, Caltrans resident engineer, with a certificate of appreciation for his work and fortitude.
Collins thanked the town for its patience, the business community and everyone who had to endure driving through town when there were no roads to drive on during the spring and summer. He told the audience of some of the more interesting things about working in a “town with history.”
His crew, for example, discovered redwood pipes and at one point near the center of town, found tombstones. He led the audience back to January of this year and the winter storms that had decimated the roads.
“It was a tough winter. At one point from the Greenville Wye to town there were seven different crews,” said Collins.
He singled out Anna Jeffreys at Anna’s Café for thanks and gratitude for letting his crew have meeting after meeting and coffee after coffee.
Collins, along with the Streetscape Committee, reiterated that the project was a culmination of community input over the years addressing community needs.
Collins suggested that the project will be looked at statewide as an example of what can be accomplished in towns where the highway is the main thoroughfare through town and said the project fit in with the Caltrans mission to provide safe and sustainable transportation and mobility.