A downtown enhancement project over a decade in the making came to fruition Oct. 21 when local, county and state officials formally dedicated improvements to Highway 89 as it passes through Greenville.
Locally known as the Streetscape Project, the undertaking includes sidewalks, curbs, street lights and, most recently, landscaping along a quarter of a mile of Crescent Street. The $917,000 investment in beautification includes flowers, shrubs and trees planted on corners and curbs complete with an underground irrigation system.
The entire project took patience, planning and partnerships to accomplish, said Lee Anne Schramel. A founding member of the Streetscape Committee, she and a handful of devoted regulars have been meeting twice a month for at least 14 years to plan improvements designed to increase public safety, slow the flow of traffic and enhance the beauty of the downtown corridor.
“We really had to hang in there to make this happen,” she said.
The result is “a more livable, vibrant community,” said Dave Moore, a Greenville High School graduate who is Caltrans District 2 director.
The landscape project is part of the $36 million Caltrans has recently invested in Plumas County roadways. Much of the work was necessitated by the 2021 Dixie fire, which burned nearly a million acres in Plumas and four other counties.
Caltrans has repaired bridges, stabilized embankments, repaved roads and improved intersections, Moore said. Some of the recent maintenance has been caused by impacts from the work Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has been doing to put electrical wiring underground, he said.
The Oct. 21 ribbon-cutting ceremony was the second one held by Caltrans and the Streetscape Committee. In 2017 they gathered with members of the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce at the intersection of Highway 89 and Main Street to celebrate completion of the Greenville Rehabilitation Project. Much of those safety and infrastructure improvements were wiped out by the Dixie fire, which destroyed most of downtown Greenville.
The fresh look, which maintained Greenville’s historic character, won the Caltrans 2019 Excellence in Transportation Award, beating out many larger projects in the state.
Moore, who grew up in Greenville, spoke movingly at the Oct. 21 dedication ceremony about the effects of completing the work damaged by the fire. Combined with more than 20 new homes under construction in Greenville, “this trip back is the first one since the fire that felt pretty good. Now I’m thinking about the future in a positive way.”
The original Highway 89 enhancement project did not include landscaping. “It wasn’t quite whole, ” Moore said.
Today the corridor is graced by 16 species of trees, shrubs, grasses and perennial flowers. Over half are native species, said Tony Rogers, a landscape designer with Caltrans. Among them are western redbud, incense cedar, Idaho fescue and California fuchsia.
Schramel credited Jim Graham, executive director of the Plumas County Transportation Commission, with notifying the Streetscape Committee about the availability of landscape funding through Clean California, which grants funding for local beautification and safety projects. “That was pure serendipity,” she said.
Graham worked with the committee throughout the project. “It pulled on my heartstrings, this amazing dedication,” he said.
Caltrans workers will return next spring to replace any plants that do not survive the winter. “We’re not going away. We will continue to be here and support this effort,” he said.
The partners involved in the Streetscape Project include the Indian Valley Community Services District, Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce, Plumas County Departments of Transportation and Public Works and the Dixie Fire Collaborative.