The long and arduous Healdsburg roundabout project is coming closer to the finish line. Workers got started on the installation of almost 3,000 trees, shrubs and vegetation this week.
Landscaping is the final bit of frosting on this complex cake. Construction on the roundabout started in June 2016, after the Healdsburg City Council approved the project in April that same year. City officials launched the roundabout, dubbed the Healdsburg Avenue Improvement Project, after the community voiced a desire to have the five-way intersection of Healdsburg Avenue, Mill Street and Vine Street improved for safety, aesthetics and car capacity.
The project then became incorporated into the city’s Central Healdsburg Avenue Plan (CHAP), a document that integrates the public’s vision for the look and design of the project.
Now, almost three years later, the vision of a welcoming and green entry to town is coming to fruition.
Larry Zimmer, director of public works and transportation for the City of Healdsburg, says workers hope to complete the landscaping by Nov. 21.
“All the prep work and irrigation was done in advance, and now (crews) are clearing construction debris. Trees are being planted, and the shrubs will come next week,” Zimmer said.
City Manager David Mickaelian said the city hosted a number of meetings to garner ideas from residents on what sort of greenery the roundabout would include. Working with lead project designer, GHD Inc., the city settled on local, drought-resistant trees and shrubs.
Trees used in the design include Armstrong maples, a fast-growing maple tree whose leaves turn a bright shade of red in the fall; crepe myrtles, a stout tree with bright pink flowers; fruitless olive trees; and Leyland cypress, another fast-growing evergreen tree.
The trees will line Healdsburg Avenue and are also being installed in the center of the roundabout.
The landscape design also includes plants like blue agave, feathered reed grass, dwarf bottlebrush, flower carpet pink rose, hot lip sage, Lily turf and blue chalk stick, just to name a few.
Mickaelian said of the design, “We wanted to make a pleasing entryway to Healdsburg and to reflect the natural landscape of Healdsburg.”
The contractor installed other essential infrastructure components, such as signage, streetlights and utilities, earlier this year. Workers also built new water and sewer lines; rebuilt an old, underground culvert that channels water from Foss Creek; and upgraded the railroad ties for future SMART train use.
“(This) is now an esthetically pleasing entryway to the city,” Zimmer said.
Healdsburg Mayor Brigette Mansell said she is thankful the project is coming to an end, as it will be a safer space for pedestrians, cars and cyclists.
“I’m grateful that this project is coming to a close because I feel like it honors both drivers and pedestrians. I can walk to the other part of town, and I feel safer now because of it. And it will improve the flow of traffic,” Mansell said.
In celebration of the roundabout’s completion, the city will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Nov. 29. The time and place will be announced later this month.
According to Rhea Borja, who works in communications with the city, a larger celebration is planned for the spring of 2019.