MERLIN, Ore. -- A busy part of Merlin is getting a face lift. Brand new sidewalks are going in on Merlin Road and Galice Road. The project is underway from Merlin Sanitarium Road to Robertson Bridge Road.
Josephine County Public Works Director Rob Brandes said the project will make the tourist-heavy area a lot safer for pedestrians.
"That area's got about 7,000 cars a day in the off season, so in the Summer I'm guessing there's probably 10,000 cars a day for rafting and fishing and everything that goes on, a lot of them with tractors and trailers behind them," Brandes said.
Dave Chavez Jr. works at Lamb Air Heating & Air Conditioning, which is right in front of some of the heavy construction.
He said he believes the finished sidewalks will make the area a lot safer, especially since many drivers speed through.
"You see it on a daily basis, I mean you've got your local people that drive at a good speed and stay below the speed limit, but then you have people that are not from around here that treat it as if it was a highway," Chavez Jr. said.
Merlin Resident Amanda Brazille said she's lived in the area her whole life, but she rarely walks around this part of town with her kids.
"We kind of always wanted to, but I'm really safety conscious so with the sidewalks I think we'll be out here a lot more," Brazille said.
Brandes said the project costs about $630,000.
"That money came through the Metropolitan Planning Organization. The gist of that funding initially still comes from the state highway funds so it’s gas taxes, vehicle registration and licensing," Brandes said.
He said the County applied for the project and was granted the funding several years ago.
Another Merlin Resident, Marcia Shannon, said she's not on board with the upgrade.
"We're rural, we like that, that's why we live out here," Shannon said.
She said Merlin is a special place and doesn't need to change.
"We don't want to be a big city. We don't want to be covered with cement and asphalt any more than we already are," Shannon said.
Brandes said the project removed 12 to 14 parking spots on the roads.
"We're putting in an informal parking lot in a county right-of-way that’s adding 12 spots so all in total we’re hoping it’s a near net zero in terms of parking change," Brandes said.
Brandes said the eight-week project is set to be finished just in time for the 4th of July. He also said residents can find a current map of construction updates on the county's website.