Improvements planned for block of downtown SLO

Construction will start next week on one block in San Luis Obispo as part of a downtown renewal project.

One block of downtown — both sides of Higuera Street between Garden and Broad streets — will receive new Mission-style sidewalks, upgraded tree grates, new trash containers and other improvements, according to Bridget Fraser, senior civil engineer in the city’s public works department.

Four trees that are in declining health will be removed from Higuera Street — a ficus, a carrotwood and two avocado trees — and replaced with large ficus trees. One additional tree will also be planted.

In January, the San Luis Obispo City Council awarded a $504,450 contract to Brough Construction Inc., for the work. The total project budget is $604,000, with a bulk of the funds coming from Measure Y revenue, money from the city’s half-percent sales tax increase.

The downtown renewal project has been ongoing for some time. The council approved a major city goal in its 2007-09 budget for downtown maintenance and beautification, and renewed that goal as an “important objective” in the following two-year budget, Fraser said.

A major city goal to assess and renew the downtown was also included in the 2013-15 budget.

In 2012, the city spent $704,741 on similar improvements on Higuera Street from Morro Street to Garden Street.

The upcoming work will be done from 2 to 10 a.m., Mondays through Fridays, so that construction is wrapped up before most businesses open for the day. Noisy work, including saw cutting and jack-hammering, will not happen until after 6 a.m.

Fraser said that some of the utility companies, including PG&E, may conduct some upgrades to their facilities during other hours.

The work will continue through May, depending on weather conditions.