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Gateway to Ripon arch near completion

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Gateway to Ripon arch near completion

Motorists heading into Downtown Ripon along Stockton Avenue will now pass underneath the ornate archway recently erected as part a $4 million renovation project that was funded exclusively through ...

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED July 16, 2009 2:18 a.m.
RIPON – The entrance to Ripon’s historic downtown is now something that nobody can debate.

For the last week workers from United Sign Systems have been putting the finishing touches on the ornate archway that will greet motorists as they pass underneath into the downtown district on Stockton Avenue and the approach on West Main Street.

Completion of the work will essentially mark the conclusion of nearly $4 million worth of construction projects designed to improve the overall aesthetics of the historic area.
And while the wrought iron fences and ornate lighting fixtures and paver-filled streets are something that everyone will be able to notice, the lion’s share of the funding for the project came from the aggressive pursuit of competitive grants over several years, something that takes on even more importance given the rocky financial climate that municipalities face today.

“A downtown project is normally more expensive than a typical road reconstruction project not only because of the aesthetic elements, but also because of higher construction costs that come as a result of scheduling restrictions that the contractor must adhere to that slows down construction,” said City Engineer Kevin Werner. “Without grant funding, it is very difficult to complete these types of projects.”

While elected officials have long made the improvement of downtown a rallying cry during political years, the inflated cost of tackling such a project has made it nearly impossible, forcing the search for alternate funding sources through channels like redevelopment and private grants.

Werner was thrilled upon learning that the city had qualified for the grant funding that would make the project possible – noting that the community benefit aspect of what was being proposed made it very competitive when up against other cities trying to snag the same money – and kept the council apprised of the construction situation once it began in March of 2008.

And while the phase that the $4 million helped fund is nearly complete, Werner said that the city has just obtained economic stimulus funds for improvements to Main Street between Acacia Avenue and Nourse Street.

That money will likely be used, he said, to tackle something that has long been discussed in Ripon’s Council Chambers.

“It looks like this project will include expanding the parking lot behind the Ripon Roadhouse (where the car wash currently sits), adding decorative lights along this section of Main Street, and a turnaround on Main Street just south of where the car wash currently sits,” Werner said. “This project is currently in the design phase and is expected to go out to bid by later this year or early 2010.”
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