Posted 6/16/15 (Tue)
By Nicky Ouellet
Tiogans can expect a torn-up downtown as early as the end of the week, according to representatives of the Main Street renovation project.
Local business owners met with city officials and construction company representatives to ask and answer questions about the project on Thursday, June 11.
Tom Johnson, a senior construction specialist with Ackerman Estvold, will be overseeing the project.
“We’re not here to cause trouble,” he said. “We’re here to do our job and turn over a quality product for the citizens of Tioga.”
Though no official timeline for the project was given, Johnson gave a conservative estimate of three weeks per block barring bad weather days.
“At first it will seem like organized chaos,” he said, “but if we all work together and communicate . . . it will help the project move along so much easier and faster for everyone involved.”
Construction will begin at the south end of Main Street and work its way north one block at a time. Crews will replace underground infrastructure, like sanitary sewer mains, water mains, storm sewers and electrical wiring, one at a time by block to avoid cross contamination and adhere to state health regulations.
“It’ll look like we’re going back and forth and we don’t know what we’re doing, but there are patterns we have to use to install utilities,” said Johnson.
Sidewalks will remain open throughout construction work, but customers should expect to use back entrances to Main Street businesses.
Street parking will not be available. The city is considering how to make other areas, like the former impound lot behind City Hall and the Economic Development Corporation lot next to Hegstad Furniture Appliance, available for public parking.
The Bank of Tioga was a business of concern, as construction will block the drive through ATM for most of the summer. Bank President David Grubb says he plans to move the ATM and create a walk-up to replace the drive through.
“It has to happen. I’m all on board with this,” he said.
Mayor Drake McClelland said the project is long overdue but recognizes the difficulties downtown businesses will face this summer.
“We want to keep downtown going as best we can in this crucial time of reconstruction,” he said.
All estimates point to block-by-block construction lasting through late August.
Main Street will then shut down one half at a time for paving and a 10-day period to allow concrete to set. One lane will remain open for public traffic throughout this time.
The train track crossing on Main Street will be rerouted to ND40 or 105th for periods lasting throughout construction, though the timing of that detour remains to be determined.
Johnson tentatively hopes for Main Street to be drivable by the end of September. He vowed to have the entire project done by the time the snow flies.
“It’s construction season. We’ll rest in February,” he said.
In the end, Main Street will be a one-way road running north to south. Diagonal parking will remain along both sides of the street. The sidewalk will remain the same width and new streetlights will be installed.
Tent stake anchors will be embedded around the intersection of First and Main to return the Farm Festival’s summer celebrations to the downtown area.
Street Commissioner Heather Weflen asked for Tiogans to give the city one summer in exchange for a nicer downtown in the future.
“I know it’s going to be a long summer but the important thing is communication and patience,” she said. “The big thing is to think of how nice it will be next summer.”