LEMOORE — Work on the east sidewalk of Fox Street in Lemoore is nearly complete, and though the area may be less shady than what residents are used to, the sidewalk is flat and perfect for walking along.
Work on the project began in early June, and Interim Public Works Director Frank Rivera said everything should be complete by the end of the week.
In May, the Lemoore City Council granted a bid for the remediation of the street, which saw tree roots damaging and lifting up portions of the street’s sidewalk that runs north and south between Cinnamon Drive and Hanford-Armona Road.
Then public works director Nathan Olson, who is now the interim city manager, told council after a walkthrough of the sidewalk that it was determined 70 trees had to be removed from the east side of the street.
Fox Street is a heavily traveled road and one that also gets a lot of foot traffic as well, Olson said. He said the trees that line the street had increasingly become an issue because the roots were causing the sidewalk to uplift.
Olson said work had been done to fix the sidewalks before, but it had gotten to a point where more intensive work needed to be done.
The scope of the work included removing the 70 trees and grinding the stumps, and replacing 11,000 square feet of sidewalk.
Initially, the department was just going to repair the areas that needed fixing, but when the area was inspected by contractors, they realized none of the sidewalk met Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and was cause for trip hazards.
Rivera said the trees came out quickly and the entire work will be complete within the scheduled timeframe of the contract. The sidewalk was completed Friday, and workers are cleaning the area before a final walkthrough takes place.
“Once it got going, it went well,” Rivera said.
Lemoore Mayor Ray Madrigal said though he hated seeing the trees go, he believes the city had no other option than to remove the damaging trees because of the hazards they posed.
Madrigal said he’s pleased with the work that has been done and he’s glad the department tried to spare as many trees as they could.
Now, eyes turn to the west sidewalk, which is not as damaged as the east sidewalk, but still poses tripping hazards from uplifted sidewalk panels.
Olson said the city will eventually look to fixing the west sidewalk, though he said work is “not on our radar” just yet. Rivera said whether or not work gets done depends on the city’s budget and when funding will be available.
Madrigal said he knows Fox Street's west sidewalk is something the city will “definitely” have to look at in the future, though he believes the work will not have to be as extensive. He said many of the sidewalks in the city will have to be surveyed going forth to make sure they are also not posing tripping hazards.
A majority of the trees were decades-old pines that took up the whole area between the curb and sidewalk, something Madrigal said was a mistake the city will not make again. He said from here on out, staff will research the appropriate type of trees to plant in certain areas.
“We have to remember, what looks good now may not look so good down the road,” Madrigal said.
Olson admits some people have lamented the fact that the trees are gone and say it’s hotter without the shade or they don’t like the aesthetic of the street while driving by.
However, for the most part, Olson said he has seen a favorable response from people after he explains why the trees needed to be removed. Residents who live adjacent to the sidewalk are especially happy with the work too, after the tree roots encroached on their backyards and even damaged some pools, he said.
“At least now we have one good side that people can use,” Rivera said.