The big Mullan Avenue rebuild next to City Park in downtown Coeur d’Alene is done and reopens Wednesday.
Except it’s not Mullan, it’s now named Fort Grounds Drive.
And it’s not reopening to through traffic - not yet.
The city finished the $1.5 million project Tuesday, a week and a half before crowds descend on the area for Art on the Green, Taste of the Coeur d’Alenes and Downtown Street Fair on Aug. 5-7.
Fort Grounds Drive, a new public plaza in front of Memorial Field and a new parking lot are open. But auto traffic cannot yet use it as a through street.
“To keep Fort Grounds Drive a ‘pedestrian focused’ corridor, the bollards will be left up for the recreational-summer season,” project manager Dennis Grant said.
The removable bollards in the middle of the street create a safe way for people to walk between the park and the Memorial Field plaza. The design was intended for special events and large public gatherings such as Ironman and Independence Day.
City leaders have decided to leave the bollards up all summer long.
“We will be keeping them up from Memorial Day to Labor Day,” Deputy City Administrator Sam Taylor said. “As we considered the overall goal of the project to enhance pedestrian access, it seems to make sense to keep the bollards up throughout the summer. We think this will also help lessen confusion for motorists who now don’t have to wonder if a special event is occurring and will access be closed.”
Taylor also pointed out that access to the historic Fort Grounds neighborhood and North Idaho College was greatly enhanced in recent years with improvements on River and Hubbard avenues.
Drivers on Fort Grounds Drive will encounter turnarounds on either end of the bollards.
The new plaza includes a spot for the historic carousel from the former Playland Pier amusement park on the lakeshore. A nonprofit group has raised funds to build a structure to house the 1922 carousel and hopes to have the attraction installed and running this fall.
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