Chamber hears of Main Street reconstruction

Members of the Hillsboro business community were briefed Wednesday on the particulars of the Main Street renovation project that will begin this spring.

City Administrator Steven Garrett told the group that gathered for the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting that although the project will inconvenience downtown businesses for about four months, “This is something that needs to happen.”

He and Bob Previtera, city engineer from Reiss & Goodness Engineers in Wichita, described the parameters and timetable for the project, which is actually the first and most radical of three phases that eventually will improve Main from D Street north to Third Street over three years.

This first phase will start at the intersection of South Main and A streets and extend to about 100 feet north of the post office entrance on North Main. It will also include one block of East Grand from Main to Washington, and about a half-block of West Grand from Main.

In addition to lowering the high crown that has accumulated on Main Street over the years and providing a better driving surface, the project is intended to improve drainage and sidewalks, bury utility lines underground and replace the existing water line.

Previtera said the present plan is to remove the first six feet of sidewalk along the curbing-and even more in places where the sidewalks are bad.

“We’re going to replace all the of the sidewalk that needs to be replaced, but not all of it needs to be replaced,” Garrett said.

Previtera said the sidewalks along Main Street are about 16 feet wide, so the newly poured portion of the sidewalk will be blended with the existing portion with a two-brick-wide “ribbon” between the two.

The cost of the street renovation and related work is estimated at $650,000.

Garrett asked the Chamber for feedback about street lighting. Replacing the existing 30-foot poles with similar lighting would cost about $130,000. To replace existing lighting with 14-foot poles and stylized lighting was projected to cost $210,000.

He said a special committee formed within the Chamber has been asked by the city to discuss the issue and make a recommendation.

Of chief concern to those present was how long downtown traffic would be inconvenienced.

Garrett said the project must be completed by mid-July so the city can properly host the Marion County Fair in early August. Previtera has suggested a contract of 120 days, which means the project must begin in mid-March.

But Garrett said the city will arrange with the contractor to divide the project down the middle of the street and work on only half of one block at a time, which should allow for one-way traffic and diagonal parking along one side of Main at all times.

One Chamber member asked if people would be able to cross the construction area in the middle of the block.

Previtera said because of safety concerns, the contractor may not allow it. But Previtera said he would look into it.

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