The enhancement project will update the streets from Butternut to Locust. The project will beautify the streets by constructing a lighted and landscaped concrete media. In addition, it will include sidewalk, curb ramp and pedestrian crosswalk construction.
The first phase of construction include deconstructing the old sidewalks and replacing them with new ones. Construction will go for 105 working days or roughly 5 1/2 months.
The city was able to start a project after the Planning and Development Services Department received a $700,000 federal grant, city engineer Chad Carter says.
"Many people ask why we're doing this but we really want to enhance the south side downtown area," Carter said.
Aside from the beautification process, Carter believes it will also enhance safety along South 1st.
"There are a lot of fatalities on this stretch of road and there are many pedestrians walking from the bus stop to the library," says Carter. "We feel it will improve pedestrian and traffic safety."
Carter says some businesses are excited but they have their concerns. Owner of Good Time Autos Ray Gresham feels the improvements may inhibit the flow of business. Gresham has owned his shop on the corner of Butternut and South 1st for 11 years and says he supports the idea but has his reservations.
"With the construction of the median, it will affect the traffic coming into my lot," Gresham says. "It will cut off the west bound traffic coming into my lot and they're going to have to make a left on Butternut."
Gresham adds that if it makes it inconvenient to get to his lot, then his customers may not bother coming. However, he admits that only time will tell if it will negatively affect his business.
"I know it will make the street look more attractive and hopefully in the long run, it will pay off," Gresham said.
A minimum of one lane of traffic will remain open in each direction during construction. The city says access will be maintained to all businesses as best as possible.
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