Posted 11/03/15 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
Main Street in Tioga is open again after a long wait and a lot of inconvenience.
Antonio Conti of Ackerman-Estvold, the engineer for the project, organized a ribbon-cutting to mark the occasion. Downtown business owners and other residents came down Friday to see the removing of barriers in place since last spring.
As the first cars drove down the street, the drivers honked their horns to an applauding crowd.
“I feel happy. Hopefully we can get some people downtown now,” said Mayor Drake McClelland.
Irene Olson, who works at Shear Image, said she hopes people note the thoroughfare is now a one-way running south from Second Avenue.
“There’s going to be some confused people for a while,” she said.
The project is not entirely finished. Conti said there are still some minor “punch list” items to finish up, and Second Street still needs to be paved. The intersection of Welo and First, and the railroad crossing will be completed in the next two weeks.
But people can once again drive up to businesses, city hall, and the post office.
“This is part of your surge at work. Nobody got assessed for this,” McClellan said, referring to the state-allocated “surge funding” that paid for the project.
At a construction update meeting a couple weeks ago, McClelland questioned if the striping to mark parking spaces and road lines would be complete in time for the ceremony. Conti assured him it would be done.
And despite snow earlier in the week, much of it was completed for the opening ceremony.
“You can tell the difference as soon as you stripe. It looks finished,” Conti said.
Towards the end of the project, some businesses were growing anxious to have the months-long project complete. At the opening, Commissioner Heather Weflen thanked the town for hanging in there.
“I would like to express my appreciation for the patience and support from the local community during construction,” Weflen said.
Among the people who participated in the opening ceremony was Ace Hardware co-owner Nathan Germundson. His business location is such he still had parking availability at the hardware store, but he said the opening would greatly benefit his neighbors.
“Now customers will be able to drive right up to the door,” Germundson said.
Russ Papineau, who is a member of the Economic Development Corporation board, said the opening should be a boost to downtown businesses that might have lost customers deterred from the inconvenience of navigating the construction.
“I think it’ll help. It’s been a struggle to get it done, but it’s turned out nice,” he said.
Chris Norgaard, president of the EDC, agreed.
“It’s a great improvement for town,” Norgaard said.