Archive for Thursday, May 24, 2007

Downtown project is set to roll

May 24, 2007

For the first time finally, downtown business owners and others interested in the impending streetscape project got their first glimpse at when the construction will begin and where Tuesday.

The $1.6 million project, which will refurbish the downtown with new sidewalks, improve handicap accessibility, create an old-time feel with street lamps and other items, has had business owners and others concerned since it was proposed. For unknown stretches of time, sections of the downtown won't be accessible.

That's been a real concern for the many events going on in Baldwin City in June, including Planes, Trains and Automobiles that is centered in the downtown area. An even bigger concern is what effects the project will have on the Maple Leaf Festival, which will celebrate its 50th year on the third weekend in October.

Allan Luttrell, the project engineer from EBH and Associates and general contractor Bud Bryant from Bryant and Bryant, Inc. met with about 20-25 businesspeople and others Tuesday at the public works office and provided answers to each.

The work will begin June 11 and will involve replacing the waterline down High Street.

"We're going to do the north side of High first, from Sixth to Eighth (streets)," said Luttrell.

Luttrell and Bryant had met with city staff earlier in the day to map out specifics, too. City Administrator Jeff Dingman said the first questions have been answered and the work shouldn't hinder the June slate. After that, it's hard to tell, he said.

"The most definite answers are that the first subcontractor, the one installing the waterline, will start on June 11, tearing up the north side of High Street from Sixth to Eighth," said Dingman. "After that, he'll be tackling the west side of Eighth Street, from Grove to the alley south of City Hall. The concrete guys will start in after him, around the first of July.

"After that, I'm not sure which section is next," he said.

As for the big question on Maple Leaf, Luttrell said it won't be a problem.

"Hopefully, they'll be done before Maple Leaf," he said. "If not, it will be buttoned up and out of the way. It's going to be weather related."

Luttrell said work would cease well ahead of the festival if it isn't completed and would continue after the festival.

The Kansas Department of Transportation is paying 80 percent of the cost of the project, although the city is responsible for design work and the waterline work.

Technically, the project started last week when city crews began the process of burying utility lines on Seventh Street between the alley south of High Street to Grove. That project is expected to be completed in June.

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