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Third Avenue Opening Signals End Of Project
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Gathering for a photo before the ceremonial first ride along the newly reopened North Third Avenue business corridor, Mayor Cherilyn Bairos, right, atop Miss Kitty, is joined by fellow Oakdale City Council members, from left, Mayor Pro Tem Christopher Smith, Kayleigh Gilbert, Bob Amaral and Fred Smith. Marg Jackson/The Leader

The gray skies did little to put a damper on the festivities on Friday morning, Feb. 3 as the long-awaited reopening of the North Third Avenue business corridor was celebrated.

Oakdale Mayor Cherilyn Bairos, aboard quarter horse Miss Kitty with handler Junior Rodin walking alongside, headed up the procession. Following were members of the Oakdale City Council in a golf cart, then a contingent of police cars and fire trucks. Mayor Pro Tem Christopher Smith and council members Bob Amaral, Kayleigh Gilbert and Fred Smith were all in attendance.

“This is the best project for sure since I’ve been mayor,” noted Bairos. “We’ve had to endure the pain with the businesses but this is going to be around for many, many generations to come. So, it’s an exciting time for our local businesses here, our downtown businesses and our community as a whole.”

City Manager Bryan Whitemyer said officials were able to breathe a sigh of relief on Friday, with vehicle traffic once again able to travel on North Third after a much longer closure than anticipated.

“The ground breaking event for the Third Avenue Rehabilitation project took place on May 9, 2022 with project completion anticipated to occur before Thanksgiving of 2022. The project was delayed for several weeks due to PG&E work and then again in late December 2022 and January 2023 due to the significant rain events,” Whitemyer explained. “I am extremely grateful for the patience of the businesses during the construction process and the support our residents provided those businesses during that time.”

The extensive renovation/rehabilitation project is one that ultimately is designed to bring more people to the downtown business corridor.

The Third Avenue Rehabilitation project included the replacement of sewer and water lines, said Whitemyer, in addition to storm drain improvements, installation of new curb, gutter and sidewalks as well as removal and replacement of the damaged asphalt with brick pavers.

“Pedestrian safety enhancements and new landscaping were also installed with the project,” added Whitemyer. “This project had been contemplated since 2016 and the design of the project was finalized with significant community input.”

Mayor Bairos said there will be a formal party to celebrate the reopening of the street later this month.

The special Third Avenue Grand Re-Opening Night will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, 2023.

“A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. and it should be a nice event for community members to check out the finished project and spend some money at our local businesses,” Whitemyer said. “Prior to this project, Third Avenue suffered from failing pavement and ancient water and sewer lines. With the completion of this project the Oakdale community now has a modern and aesthetically pleasing central gathering place that will attract local residents as well as those passing through town. Private development has made significant investments in their downtown store fronts and this work complements and enhances those efforts.”

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Oakdale Mayor Cherilyn Bairos smiles and waves to residents and business owners along North Third Avenue during the ceremonial ‘first ride’ as the street reopened to traffic on Friday morning, Feb. 3. Aboard Miss Kitty, and being led by Junior Rodin, the mayor was followed by the council, police and fire personnel in the inaugural procession. Marg Jackson/The Leader