BARRE — The “big digging” is done, but the contractor hired to completely reconstruct a short stretch of North Main Street will soon start putting the finishing touches on the Granite City’s $17 million half-mile.
After taking a break for the winter, a crew from Luck Brothers Inc. is scheduled to return to Barre this week and pick up where it left off last November.
Though there is still work to do, City Manager Steve Mackenzie said disruptions associated with a punch list of some two dozen items — many of them cosmetic — should be minimal.
That is music to the ears of downtown merchants who suffered through a summer when North Main Street was closed to through traffic — first on one side of Depot Square and then the other — as the street and sidewalks in front of their businesses were ripped up and replaced, along with century-old water and sewer mains.
A Summer Street detour that was pressed into service last year won’t be needed this year, but Mackenzie said the one-time downtown bypass will be getting some attention as the North Main Street project ramps back up in coming weeks.
The schedule is still something of a moving target, but Mackenzie said plans to resurface all of Summer and Elm streets may be the most disruptive work that remains. Both “mill-and-fill” projects will occur during the day and may require some daytime road closures. Much, if not all, of that work will occur next month after Pike Industries’ asphalt plant opens for the season.
According to Mackenzie, paving planned downtown — including the final wearing course on North Main Street from Merchant to Elm streets — will be completed at night. The same, he said, is true of paving that will occur in and near the intersections located around City Hall Park.
With the exception of re-striping the roads after they are repaved, none of the rest of the remaining work should tie up traffic, day or night, according to Mackenzie.
Luck Brothers’ list of things to do includes things like installing new posts for the parking meters that will eventually be ordered and installed, planting the street trees they weren’t able to get to last year, and wiring the 78 decorative street lights installed last year to a single photo cell so they all come on at once instead of one at a time.
According to Mackenzie the company will also modify the timing, phasing and cycles of all traffic signals, though he added that reprogramming work will first require collecting and analyzing traffic data at each location.
Mackenzie said two sections of sidewalk, one in front of City Hall and the neighboring Blanchard Block and the other across from Depot Square in front of where City Place is under construction, must also be completed. However, he said he is hoping that work can be postponed to mid-June to accommodate construction at both locations.
Plans to reconstruct the entrances at both City Hall and the Blanchard Block should be completed by that time and work on City Place should have advanced enough to allow for the seamless installation of a new section of sidewalk.
The subcontractor for the sidewalk work is local and, assuming Luck Brothers can honor the city’s request, Mackenzie said the sidewalk work would likely be the final piece of a massive project that should involve just a few more weeks of work.
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