Much of the city’s Main Street improvement project is now focused on the downtown business district and governmental center, according to City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann.

He said work is progressing on the enhancement portion of the roadway.

Zimmermann explained that the downtown streetscape enhancements are funded by $310,515 in federal funds. The city is required to provide a match of over $100,000. The total cost of the project is estimated at $411,433.

“We’re trying to make it more inviting to pedestrians,” Zimmermann said.

When traveling west on Main Street, there is a gateway, or “portal” that includes one monument on each side of the street. That portal separates the residentially zoned district from the B-1 downtown businesses district.

There also is a wall that is being constructed on the south side of the road between McKinley Avenue and Linden Street to “screen out” a county parking lot. The wall is located across Main Street from the El Ranchito mexican restaurant.

Plans also call for new sidewalks, with a foot-wide colored stamped stripe, on both sides of Main Street from McKinley Avenue to Washington Avenue.

The project is slated to be complete in March or April, according to city officials.

Courthouse Enhancements

Franklin County officials granted an easement for the city to include seating and planters along Main Street on the north side of the Historic Franklin County Courthouse.

“At the courthouse there will be colored, stamped concrete planters and seating behind them,” Zimmermann said.

Plans also call for seating and planters around a flagpole on the county property, as well as on the veterans memorial on the northwest corner of the courthouse square.

The additions on the county property will match other new benches and planters installed between McKinley and Washington avenues to provide more consistency in the downtown area.

“The colors and concrete will match — it will be more inviting,” said Zimmermann. “Right now we have park benches every once in a while, but that’s it.”

Other Improvements

There will be new bumpouts added at intersections where there were no bumpouts previously, and older bumpouts will be replaced.

Zimmermann said large vehicles, including school buses, were unable to navigate around the existing bumpouts.

There will be stamped concrete crosswalks along Main Street in the downtown district, and some Bradford pear trees will be removed and replaced with frontier elm trees.

“That will be in select area,” he said. “They (frontier elms) are better for landscaping.”

Focus Group

Zimmermann said the enhancement project plans were drawn with the help of a focus group comprised of downtown business owners.

Members included Jim Ming, Bob Hansen, Joe Purschke and Ed Schmelz; as well as Dale Schmuke, who represented the United Bank of Union and former Franklin County Commissioner Ann Schroeder.

“We worked toward these enhancements through a focus committee of property owners,” Zimmermann said. “They selected those improvements and wanted those improvements.”