Ash St. project likely to begin next week

Hillsboro residents and visitors who exit and enter the city on Ash Street should prepare for a couple months of inconvenience as renovation begins next week on a section of the city?s main entry point off of U.S. Highway 56.

North Ash Street from just south of Orchard Drive to just south of First Street will be closed to traffic during the project, which is contracted to be completed in 40 working days.

The good news, according to City Administrator Larry Paine, is that once the project is completed, North Ash will be much more vehicle-friendly.

?It will be a much smoother street than it currently is,? he said.

Detour planned

While the two-plus blocks of concrete street are under repair, vehicles will need to use a detour that will be constructed near Orchard Drive, turning east into the former AMPI property now owned by the city. The detour will exit at the intersection of Third and Main streets. (See map.)

Paine said the renovation is the kind of improvement first-time guests won?t notice when they come to town but regular commuters in and out of Hills?boro definitely will appreciate.

At least for a while.

?It will be a situation where people will be driving along and (the new stretch of street) will be smooth as silk?and after a couple of weeks, they really won?t remember it,? he said.

The project includes the complete reconstruction of North Ash from about First Street north to Second Street. The stretch from Second Street north almost to Orchard Drive will be milled, then resurfaced with an asphalt overlay.

Small sections of the latter area may be replaced as well.

Stimulus funding

Paine?s enthusiasm for the project comes from the fact that almost the entire project will be paid for from the $412,500 the city was awarded last year in federal stimulus money. The low bid for the project is $302,264.

To heighten Hillsboro?s chances of being approved for stimulus funding, the city agreed to include a 10 percent funding match to its application.

?The long and the short of it?(the project is) a gift for us, and I?ve learned one should never look a gift horse in the mouth,? Paine said. ?This is the only way we could afford to do this project.?

The city council also had discussed using the city?s own money to mill one block of Third Street from North Ash east to Main Street and then add an asphalt overlay. Because of tight local funds, that part of the project has been scuttled for the time being, Paine said.

Harvest concern

The biggest concern officials have about the project is that it likely will overlap the summer wheat harvest. North Ash is the primary entry point for grain trucks driving to the storage elevator at Cooperative Grain & Supply, which is located at First and Ash streets.

The city had hoped to have the project completed before the start of harvest, but the additional time required to meet federal project requirements delayed the start.

With the detour at Orchard and Ash, grain trucks can reach the elevator from the north, but Paine fears the weight of the heavy trucks will damage the two blocks of newly renovated Main Street from Third to First.

To minimize that danger, city and CG&S officials are encouraging producers north of town to drive their trucks to 190th and approach the elevator along South Ash off of D Street.

In addition to wheat farmers and local motorists, Paine said he recognizes construction will entail some inconveniences for homeowners living along the affected area.

?People living along Ash Street between Second and Third may not be inconvenienced too much, but we?re going to have some inconvenience,? Paine said.

Residents in that area will need to approach their properties from alleyways until the street is reopened, he said.

City workers have been preparing for the street project over the past month or two by moving some water lines in the construction zone.

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