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Florence ranked #1 most beautiful place, Expedia says

Plans are in the works to make portions of Highways 101 and 126 more visually in line with historic downtown. (SBG photo)

FLORENCE, Ore. -- The City of Florence is ranked the number one most beautiful place in the country, according to expedia.com, and now city organizers are working to make even more improvements around the area.

Plans are in the works to make portions of Highways 101 and 126 more visually in line with historic downtown.

"It's an opportunity for this seven lane highway to slow down the traffic, expand the sidewalks, put in benches, add lighting, make it attractive, and entice new development," said Joshua Green, the Urban Renewal Agency chair.

The State Department of Transportation was already set to repave the area next year.

ODOT pushed back the project date to coordinate with the city.

"We just felt like that would be great timing to do the projects together," said Erin Reynolds, Florence City Manager.

City leaders say the project is still in the early stages.

The next step is design engineering, followed by several meetings and finalization of the project.

The city also needs to figure out how to pay for the six-million dollar price tag.

A statewide transportation improvement program grant could help.

"That grant is seven hundred fifty thousand dollars with a quarter of a million dollar match from the city," said Mike Miller, the city's Public Works Director.

If all goes as planned, the project would be completed by May of 2018.

City leaders say they don't want to interfere with the busy season or the Rhododendron Festival.

City leaders are looking for public input on the plans.

They will hold a handful of meetings over the next few months.

More information:http://www.ci.florence.or.us/urbanrenewal/revision-florence

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