CASTRO VALLEY -- Castro Valley Boulevard roadwork will be finished before November, ending two years of traffic jams, dust and loss of business along the thoroughfare.
"We'll be finished by the end of October, thank heaven," said Bob Swanson, a liaison in Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley's office.
Al Proietti, owner of Village Barber Shop in the Castro Village, has heard plenty from people coming into his shop during road construction.
"The frustration of many in our community has been pretty obvious over the last couple of years," he said. "People are really excited about seeing this finished up."
The Castro Valley Boulevard Improvement Project is designed to both calm traffic and beautify the community's major arterial. It reconfigured some traffic lanes, widened sidewalks, and added bike lanes, trees and planter beds, LED streetlights and on-street parking bays. The streetscape improvement extends from San Miguel Avenue to Redwood Road.
"It's been a long, arduous project for the merchants. We're glad the project is coming to completion," said Marita Hawryluk, assistant deputy director in the community development agency of Alameda County. "We hope this will be a great attraction for consumers to come down and join our new downtown."
The $11 million project was a partnership between Alameda County and the Castro Valley Sanitary District. Construction included both the streetscape improvement and replacement of a 30-inch sewer line; the two projects were combined so that the road only had to be torn up once.
The former Alameda County Redevelopment Agency paid for $8.7 million of the project, and the sanitary district covered $2.3 million. The streetscape improvement was one of the last projects Alameda County was able to fund with redevelopment money, Hawryluk said. The governor dissolved the state's redevelopment agencies earlier this year.
Though many merchants are relieved the construction is coming to a close, Smart N Cleaners owner Nam Kim is not sure the area can recover. She said redoing the road during an economic downturn was bad timing.
"Business is dead," she said. "So many longtime businesses have closed, it looks like they killed Castro Valley."
Kim said a ban on left turns along the boulevard during much of the construction made a bad situation worse, since it further limited patrons being able to get to stores.
During the roadwork, the Castro Valley Eden Area Chamber of Commerce held promotions to encourage shoppers to patronize businesses along Castro Valley Boulevard, including a "Shop the Boulevard" campaign. The redevelopment agency offered marketing grants to affected businesses.
With the completion of the roadwork by Ghilotti Construction of Santa Rosa, the project moves into the next phase: installation of public art. Miriam Klein Stahl is creating the artwork in collaboration with Pippa Murray Mosaics.
The artwork is intended to reflect Castro Valley's natural environment, landmarks and community activities. The marble mosaics will be inset onto granite slabs along the boulevard.
"We will be installing 35 granite seat blocks and two gateway markers in the spring of 2013," Hawryluk said.
Now that the frustration is almost over, the community is ready to celebrate.
"People are really looking forward to the celebration on Nov. 10. The trees will be planted and the lanes striped. It should be a fun event, and we're looking to new merchants coming in," Proietti said.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.
A community celebration of the end of road construction
When: 3-6 p.m. Nov. 10
Where: Castro Valley Boulevard and Santa Maria Avenue
Details: Still being worked out, but festivities will include music, entertainment and a parade