The city recently held a meeting to discuss plans and a schedule for the upcoming work on the 700 block of Gay Street. Not so much has changed since the first announcement of plans for that section, but the timeline is coming more into focus for each segment and for the total project. It will cause come re-routing of traffic and probably a bit of confusion, but it’s important to the businesses on the block for everyone to know that the sidewalk will be open throughout and access to the businesses provided.
There have been a few changes in design since the original plans were announced, including the addition of “bulb outs” at each end of the block. These protrusions both protect parked cars and reduce the distance pedestrians have to travel to cross the street. Over time Gay Street has evolved from four lanes to mostly two lanes with parking on either side, though markings haven’t always kept pace with the changes, so markings will also be improved.
New materials will be introduced to the block, with permeable pavers being introduced to the sidewalk to reduce runoff entering the storm drains. Decorative therma-plastic will be applied to the intersections at each end of the block to simulate the design there now, but without the difficulties of maintaining the current bricks which are in very poor repair and do not easily withstand the amount of traffic driving through the area.
The timetable is “anticipated,” at this time, but begins on 11/1/15, with a notice to the contractor to proceed with the project. The actual work won’t start until after the Veteran’s Day Parade (11/11/15). At that point, the next month will be dedicated to completing the two intersections of Church/Gay and Cumberland/Gay. This will be the most disruptive portion of the project for traffic and is thought to be a fast fix, with both intersections complete by 12/13/15 – working around the Christmas Parade. The intention is for all work to be “substantially” complete by 4/16/16, which is just in time for the Rossini Festival (4/23/16). A month later – about 200 days after beginning the work should end.
All of this is dependent on weather and other variables and the list above underscores that most of the work is to be done on sidewalks on either side of the street. This includes planting trees in special underground containers which will allow them to be healthier for longer. It also involves building a small wall along the western side of the street. The entire block will be closed to through traffic for about four months. After that point, the southbound traffic will be allowed through for the duration.
One interesting historical note to the project is that trolley tracks dating to early last century are embedded in the road under the asphalt and their presence dictates the current slope of the road. They will have to be removed, which makes matters a bit more complicated.
I think you’ll find the most up-to-date information from the city here. A city blog for the project is likely, so check back.
One final note today on the topic of streets: The Open Streets project I announced a couple of weeks ago needs your help. For this to be a successful and repeated event, public support must be apparent. A public fundraising effort to fund just over $7200 of the project has been launched. If you’ve been excited about the idea or have said, “Well, the city oughta . . .,” then this is your chance to put your money where your mouth is. I’ve given and I think you should, too. Crazy big public support will make open streets become a common event around our city. So, do you support it?