Tuesday, June 7, 2011

orth Texas Street gateway seeing construction activity

June 03, 2011 | Posted by Barry Eberling

North Texas Street gateway seeing construction activity

FAIRFIELD - Fairfield's North Texas Street gateway at Manuel Campos Parkway is taking shape.

The city drastically reconfigured this area last year when it widened the nearby interchange at Interstate 80 and extended Manuel Campos Parkway. A few businesses had their front entrances become their back entrances amid shifting road patterns.

Now a different type of construction work is taking place at and around the intersection of North Texas Street and Manuel Campos Parkway.

Grading has begun on the site targeted for a Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse. A soon-to-open Arco gas station recently had a new, power-saving sign installed. A Chevron station will be relocated to a new site.

Things are happening, though much remains to be done to fulfill the city's vision for this area.

"In this economy, it's not like you'll see all four corners built at one time," city Economic Development Manager Curt Johnston said. "It will take some time."

Grading work under way at the Lowe's site involves flattening part of a hill. That will free up room for a development that Johnston said should create a little bit of excitement and draw people to the North Texas Street gateway.

"It will be sort of an economic driver for that area," he said.

Meanwhile, the now-closed Chevron station will be moving to a city-owned site to the south. That's because as a result of the interchange reconfiguration work, the state Department of Transportation ended up owning part of the original Chevron property. Getting the land from Caltrans could take up to a year.

As a result, it's impossible to rebuild the Chevron station at the existing site right now, Johnston said.

But Johnston sees moving the station as an opportunity. From an aesthetic standpoint, the city would like to have a nice, sit-down restaurant or retail store at this gateway site, he said.

The City Council on May 17 awarded a $195,113 contract to A+ Environmental Solutions of Santa Cruz to remove an underground storage tank at the former Chevron gas station. That's a step toward someday getting that restaurant or retail store on the land.

In addition, an Arco station is being rebuilt at the intersection. Crews from JSJ Electrical Display Corp. of Fairfield on May 23 put up a 45-foot-tall sign that has a "green" twist. The sign includes light emitting diodes modules so it can display fuel prices while consuming less energy than a typical display sign.

The Arco building itself is rapidly taking shape. An exterior that only a few weeks ago looked like bare wood now appears largely finished.

Fairfield is seeking other projects for other sites.

For example, the city last year bought a site on Nelson Road near North Texas Street that for about two decades had a vacant former Howard Johnson's restaurant building. The building was demolished several months ago.

"It was a nuisance," Johnston said. "That building needed to come down."

What will take its place remains to be seen. But that will be another step in the reshaping of the North Texas Street northern gateway.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, ext. 232, or beberling@dailyrepublic.net.