City decides to shift work on Streetscape

By Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald

City officials have decided to flip-flop two sections of the downtown Streetscape project after receiving little objection from merchants and Cole Street property owners.

During their regularly-scheduled "coffee with the contractor" meeting Friday morning, city officials announced the change of plan. The revised schedule will be in effect after the Fourth of July holiday.

For now, work crews will continue tearing up, and replacing, Cole Street between Marshall and Myrtle avenues. That work will likely wrap up July 7.

That's when the change comes. According to the original schedule, work would then move to the block bordered by Griffin and Initial avenues. Instead, crews will next tackle the block bordered by Myrtle and Griffin avenues. After that three-week project, attention will shift to the Griffin-to-Initial stretch of Cole Street.

Les Johnson, community development director for the city, said it makes more sense to keep work crews progressing steadily south on Cole, rather than jumping from one block to another. "There are going to be some inconveniences," as a result of the schedule change, Johnson admitted. But, when he went door-to-door asking for merchant feedback, there were "very few" objections, he said.

A big step in the project could begin this week, as the city is expecting chunks of Wilkeson sandstone to begin arriving. The sandstone will be placed in trenches, two feet wide, now covered with plywood around the downtown core. The stone will help identify the parking areas as downtown adapts to the new "zero curb" look, which is seeing removal of the traditional curbs and sidewalks.

The city is hoping the stone will first be installed on Cole Street between Stevenson and Initial avenues, to give the street a finished look for the Fourth of July celebration. Johnson said street lights and shorter light bollards should be installed before the holiday, too. "We really want to showcase" the project, he said, noting that more than 5,000 people roam downtown over the holiday, and most activities take place around Initial Avenue.

The final leg of the Streetscape project will see Griffin Avenue curbs and sidewalks improved in the block between Wells and Porter streets.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at

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