By John Butters, The JOURNAL
Trekkies, boldy going to the city of Riverside this weekend, will discover a whole new streetscape awaits them.
The downtown is approaching the completion of a $1.7 million renovation project that improves drainage, installs new lighting and provides better access to its elevated storefronts.
Due to the elevation of the downtown area, shops are located several feet above Highway 22. In the recent past, shoppers climbed steps to enter the stores. In the renovation, inclined walkways have replaced the steps. The gently sloping sidewalks make it less challenging for visitors, including those who use wheelchairs, to shop with city merchants. Handrails attached to decorative stonework will assist those needing a little help walking up the incline.
City clerk Becky LaRoche said the project still has a way to go before it is finished, but visitors can already see the outline of a new streetscape. When completed, the project will feature dual-level lighting. Traditional height streetlights will be installed at the corners, but pedestrian-friendly lights will light the walkways at a lower height. Practical yet decorative touches have been added. For instance, wrought iron railing has been installed to guard pedestrians from a misstep off the sidewalk into the street.
LaRoche said the streetscape is the second phase of a larger program for restoration work within the city. Additional work is planned for Highway 22 later this summer. The city will work with state and federal authorities to install new drainage and resurface the highway.
LaRoche said the city has heard very positive comments about the work that has been completed.
The streetscape portion of the project will be funded from the city?s hotel/motel tax. The resurfacing will include state and federal funding sources.