City officials said they don’t want extensive Main Street construction work in downtown Union during the holiday season.
Monday night, during a discussion on an extended time line for the completion of the Main Street project, Alderman Bob Schmuke asked if crews could avoid working on the roadway between Washington Avenue and McKinley Street.
He noted that before Thanksgiving, through Christmas and after New Year’s are the busiest times of year for many downtown businesses, including restaurants.
“Is there no way to keep them out of uptown during Christmas?” asked Schmuke. “It gets cold in December in a snap.”
He added that it could affect businesses when the street in front of their doors are under construction, or there are rock accesses to the sidewalks.
“If I was a business owner I wouldn’t want rock in my business,” said Schmuke.
Federal funds will be used for a downtown “enhancement” project that will be conducted during the Main Street project.
Those plans call for “bump outs” to be installed at intersections between Washington Avenue and Linden. Bump outs are extended sidewalk and curb areas intended to provide drivers with a better line of sight for oncoming traffic.
The discussion to halt work during the holidays was sparked due to complaints on how the speed of work on the Main Street project that is already under way.
Aldermen said the crews began work and moved onto other portions of the project before completed what had already begun.
“I’m afraid that they will tear up the street and it will stay torn up for a week at a time,” said Schmuke.
He explained that could be damaging to businesses, including restaurants, which rely on street parking for customers.
“We could keep them out of the downtown area,” said Alderman Paul Arand. “It’s inconvenient to get around the downtown area anyway.”
Terry Todd, with Cochran, the project engineer, said construction crews must provide access from the roadway to businesses.
“There are always inconveniences in construction,” he said.
It was suggested that after completing work to Christina Avenue, crews could begin to work on Main Street from McKinley Street east to Highway 47.
The deadline to complete the project would be about Dec. 15. However, there can’t be “liquidated damages” assessed for days that the project is incomplete between Dec. 15 and March 15 due to winter weather.
Todd explained that many concrete plants are not open during those months.
Aldermen may not allow any work to be conducted during Dec. 15 and March 15 because that is past the deadline of the project.
However, committee members indicated that they would allow work to resume after March 15 and assess crews for days that the project is not complete.