PLEASANT HILL -- Work is scheduled to begin next month on the long-planned project to widen Buskirk Avenue.
The project is designed to improve traffic flow and make the area behind the Crossroads Shopping Center more pedestrian friendly.
Buskirk Avenue, which runs behind the shopping center, connects Monument Boulevard in Pleasant Hill and Treat Boulevard in Walnut Creek. Commuters use the roadway to reach the Pleasant Hill BART station from Interstate 680 and neighborhoods in Concord and Walnut Creek.
The project was designed to handle regional traffic growth through 2035.
A public information workshop on the project is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 7, in the large community room at City Hall.
The design calls for widening Buskirk from two lanes to four behind the shopping center, straightening the existing bend, known as the S-curve, and putting in two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane along that stretch of roadway.
Pleasant Hill tore down the Fair Oaks Mini Market, a combined gas station and convenience store, to make way for a new intersection and traffic signal at Clarie Drive and Buskirk Avenue. The city will install a second stoplight at the T-intersection where Buskirk continues south toward Walnut Creek.
The project also calls for closing off part of Hookston Road to vehicle traffic and converting it into a greenbelt area with trees, landscaping and a pedestrian path. The remaining section of roadway will be renamed Hookston Court.
The plan also calls for new sidewalks, enhanced lighting and landscaping along Buskirk.
The first phase entails undergrounding the utilities in a trench along Buskirk from Monument Boulevard to Hookston Road, said Shawn Knapp, associate engineer with the city. The undergrounding work should be finished by August.
Reconfiguration of the roadway will proceed in stages and the entire project is expected to take about 18 months.
"Once we've agreed upon staging we'll put something on the website with details about how traffic will be routed," Knapp said.
Funding for the $13.6 million project includes $11 million from Measure J, the countywide half-cent sales tax that pays for transportation projects and local traffic mitigation money.
In 2005, Pleasant Hill completed the first phase of improvements to Buskirk Avenue farther north, closer to Monument Boulevard.
For more information about the project and to sign up for email updates, visit: http://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/buskirk.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.