Archive for Thursday, July 3, 2008

Downtown construction to start Monday

July 3, 2008

Construction for the downtown revitalization project is set to begin Monday, but the project will take longer than the original estimate of 90 days.

The completion deadline now is set for the week before Christmas. But RD Johnson Excavating Inc. told Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty that is a worst-case scenario. The Lawrence-based construction company said they expect the project to reconstruct two blocks of Main Street from Seventh and 10th streets to be finished in the first week of November.

The project will take longer because the city was able to afford to add more improvements to the project. Curbs, gutters and street repaving will extend one more block, and storm drain work will be done in the area of the Eudora Police and Fire Stations.

"On paper, RD Johnson thinks they'll be done sooner than the deadline," Beatty said. "Now, that's if every little thing is done exactly like their subcontractors have planned, but they believe they can get out at least 30 days prior to the deadline."

The process to get the project started has been as bumpy as the current Main Street.

The city had applied to KDOT for the revitalization in 2003 but was denied because there wasn't enough public input and the price was too high.

A series of public meetings took place in late 2005 through early 2006, and the city resubmitted the grant. However, the state didn't a get response back to the city in time for construction season so the project was pushed back to 2007.

City officials then delayed the project another year because they did not want the construction to interrupt the sesquicentennial celebration.

New sidewalks will be added and new lighting installed for the area spanning from Seventh to Ninth streets on Main Street. Main Street also will be repaved and fitted with new curbs and gutters from Sixth to 10th streets.

Kansas Department of Transportation officials chose Eudora as one of 18 cities eligible for a transportation enhancement grant. The grant will cover 80 percent of the streetscape improvements. Engineers estimated the project would cost about $1.5 million and the city had budgeted about $902,000 for its part.

The contractors will make a point of finishing curb and gutter as well as repaving of the road on the Ninth and 10th Street blocks of Main Street before EudoraFest, which is in early October. They also will work around the CPA Picnic, which is July 24 to 27.

The biggest headache for some could be the diverting of traffic to Church Street. Parking currently is allowed on the west side of the street, but the extra traffic will result on a parking ban on Church Street from Seventh to 10th streets.

"We don't have anywhere else to go," Beatty said. "None of the streets are as wide as that one, and the rest of the streets would definitely break up with the extra use. Church is questionable, but it is the only street that is likely to hold up under truck traffic."

However, work is being done to only allow local truck traffic entering the city from the north on Douglas County Road 1061.

Construction will be disruptive, but Beatty said the results would be worth it. She also said that with revenue concerns in the current economy, any further delays would have nixed the project altogether.

"If this were delayed any longer, there probably wouldn't be any money available to do it, so it's good that we're able to get this done," Beatty said.

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