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Ideas taking shape for Warren Street Improvement Project

August 28, 2012

City of Bishop Public Works Director Dave Grah shows conceptual drawings that detail proposed enhancements, upgrades, repairs and other improvements to Warren Street, including a plan to address the numerous utility poles lining the corridor. A citizen committee will present the drawings and ideas for public input at a meeting on Sept. 11. Photos by Marilyn Blake Philip

Efforts to convert Bishop’s Warren Street into a pedestrian-friendly commercial center have grown in recent months to include ideas for shade trees, seating, parks and even patterned pavement.
These proposed changes and more are bourne of ongoing collaboration between City of Bishop Public Works and a volunteer, citizen focus group.
“This is a great time to weigh in on the group’s ideas,” states a City of Bishop Public Works press release, once again inviting public input on Warren Street Improvement Project plans. Now is the time to provide input, the press release states, so the city can incorporate what “the community wants the city to build.”
The next public focus group meeting is at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 11 in the City Hall conference room, said Director of Public Works Dave Grah. There, the focus group will present drawings and plans and hear public input and feedback.
The volunteer focus group is comprised of citizens, artists, merchants, Chamber of Commerce members, city staff and consultants, said Grah, “people who have been interested and willing to dedicate time to have a say about how the project is shaped.”
“The volunteer group proposes a range of details and enhancements that should help make Warren Street a commercial and a gathering hub for the community,” said Public Works.
Ideas abound, according to Public Works. Pocket, or mini parks, such as the relatively large Talmage Park at the intersection of Main and Academy streets, “could make the character of the street more conducive to street fairs, markets, street performances and holiday events,” as well as day-to-day commerce, said Grah.
Along those same lines, provisions for over-roadway cables and on-light-pole fixtures would allow banners, flags and decorations to beautify and inform, said Grah, as the season, holidays and general festivities come and go year-round. Also on the table for discussion are amenities such as seating areas, awnings and shade trees and restrooms; and aesthetic improvements such as landscaping, lamp post and sidewalk planters, murals and colored, design-stamped concrete and dumpster enclosures.
One idea would brand Bishop’s historical heritage on Warren Street – sidewalk markings celebrating local mining, hydroelectric, mountaineering and packing industry heritage, for example. Honoring some of Owens Valley’s persons of renown would be set in stone with a walk-of-stars concept, along the lines of Hollywood’s sidewalk stars.
On the whole, these improvements would make Warren Street pedestrian-friendly, said Grah, giving the “sense of a street that is more comfortable … Pedestrian-friendly streets are the most economically prosperous ones,” as people are encouraged to move amiably from restaurants to shops and so on, “pausing on benches to drink coffee and talk to friends.”
Strip-map drawings present these ideas in detail on StreetProjects/Warren/20816Warren ConceptMap.pdf.
Using “Adobe Reader or other software … be sure to zoom in to see more of the details or come into City Hall to see the full-size printout,” said Public Works.
One of the challenging aspects of the Warren Street Improvement Project is the aesthetic improvement of utility poles. “Warren Street is a major (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) distribution corridor” and project representatives are in discussion with the City of Los Angeles about this aspect of the improvement project, said Grah. Considerations for putting utilities underground were discarded as far too costly – it would nearly double the cost of the entire project.
Currently, the city has $2.4 of the $4 million needed to complete the project as it stands right now, said Grah. The project is being funded by state and federal gas taxes. Although the project is obviously focused on improving Warren Street, funds permitting, side street blocks between Warren and Main streets will also be improved, affecting South, Lagoon, Church, Academy, Pine and Elm streets.
At one point, a one-way street option was considered because it would provide more room for street-side enhancements, explained Grah. However, the idea was nixed. The Bishop Police and the Bishop Volunteer Fire departments, located at West Line and Warren streets, feel that a one-way Warren Street would impede their routine and especially emergency response times.
The Chamber is planning a mixer in October, said Grah, another opportunity for the public to get in on how the Warren Street Improvement Project will affect its city.
For more information, contact City of Bishop Public Works at 377 W. Line St., Bishop,, or (760) 873-8458.

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