COOS BAY — Coos County residents and visitors trying to visit the Charleston area’s beaches will no longer have to deal with delays on Empire Boulevard.

The more than one-year project is estimated to be completed within the next couple of weeks.

Visitors will no doubt notice the new sidewalks and paved road on the nearly one-mile stretch of Cape Arago Highway between Newmark Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue, but those aren’t the only changes to the Empire area.

Now, there are pullouts and benches for drivers to stop and take in the sights, as well as new LED light fixtures and landscaping.

There’s more than meets the eye with the newly-planted flowers and trees.

Not only do they serve an aesthetic purpose, but also a practical one.

Water that seeps into the 5-foot deep drainage ponds, goes through gravel, sand and soil before it is diverted.

The Oregon Department of Transportation and the City of Coos Bay partnered on the construction of the $5 million project.

Before construction could even begin, utilities had to be relocated, including the water line.

The project initially started in March of 2015, but the wastewater treatment plant caused a delay.

Construction started back up in May of this year.

The work is close to being done, but there’s still a list of bid items and ‘punch list items’ that need to be completed.

Randy Dixon, operations administrator for Coos Bay Public Works and Development, said the sidewalks need to be swept and cleaned before the project is done.

There’s a ticking clock for the contractor to get the work done, bid items need to be completed by the end of this week.

After that, the ‘punch list items’ are next.

Local resident Ed Makaruk expressed concerns about some of the 'punchlist items', mainly marks on the sidewalks from the construction vehicles.

"I'm concerned that this is a sub par job," Makaruk said.

Some of the work that still needs to be done includes sweeping and pressure washing the sidewalks as well as using degreaser on any oil stains.

If the aforementioned items aren’t completed in time, Dixon said the city will get liquidated damages.

Dixon said eventually crew members will need to come back and repaint the yellow center lines and bike lanes after the asphalt cures.

Dixon, like many area residents, expressed his relief that the project is nearly over.

“I know it’s impacted everybody out here in the corridor, business and homeowners. And not only just right here in our immediate area, but all the way down to Charleston and the state parks,” Dixon said, “But in the long term of this when you look at the benefits from it, they far exceed what you had to go through.”

Reach Saphara Harrell at (541) 269-1222 ext. 239 or by email at saphara.harrell@theworldlink.com

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