Construction on the long-planned improvements to Avenue R will be able to begin soon, as the Palmdale City Council recently  awarded the construction contract.

The nearly $10.7 million contract was awarded to Sully-Miller Contracting Co., which qualified over two other contractors on price and meeting requirements of one of the grants used to fund the project, according to the staff report.

The state Active Transportation Grant requires that the contractor used have at least 24 percent of its subcontractors qualified as Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, a requirement Sully-Miller met and the one somewhat lower-priced contractor did not.

Work is tentatively scheduled to begin in June and extend to November 2023, according to the staff report.

The project will expand Avenue R between Sierra Highway and 25th Street East, to make it a complete five-lane arterial, with two lanes in each direction and a middle left turn lane.

It will also fill in gaps in the sidewalks, add bike lanes and improve curb ramps to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The bike lanes will connect to the Sierra Highway bike path, officials said.

The improved thoroughfare will comply with Complete Street standards and provide safer routes to schools for children who must currently contend with a lack of sidewalks and little buffer from traffic.

Four schools with approximately 6,000 students are in the project area and improved signage and other safety features in school zones are included in the project.

The area is already highly used by pedestrians, including a large number of students, and the improvements will make it safer, with sidewalks and bike lanes providing a buffer from traffic.

The changes are also designed to slow traffic on the street and open it to all modes of transportation, whether by car, bus, bike or walking.

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