Assistant City Manager Kevin Boatright said feelings toward the upcoming Main Street Streetscape Project have been mostly positive.
“To be honest, everybody’s been very happy. Everybody that’s gone to public meetings or who has called city hall personally, they’re very happy to see the improvements being made,” Boatright said. “They realize there will be inconveniences, but we’ve been completely frank and honest.”
The project is expected to last nine months from January into September. Included in the plans are sidewalks to be widened from 16 feet to 20 feet, and all parking spots will require drivers to reverse into them.
The project will span from Washington Street and West Main Street to D Street NE and East Main Street and just past Caddo Street between Main Street and Broadway Street. It will continue along Caddo Street up to 2nd Avenue.
Boatright didn’t underestimate the concerns of some shop and building owners, calling them valid concerns. But he did say that Ardmore and contractors with LandPlan have plans to address these concerns in coming meetings.
“I think they have a very healthy concern — this is their livelihood,” Boatright said. “I completely understand that. I think we have great sensitivity on what might impact them in a negative manner. But at the same time, we are surely taking all the steps with our consultants to try and minimize that as much as possible.”
This might include construction workers tearing up sidewalks, he said. Temporary means of going in and out of shops, such as plywood applied over shredded concrete, will be installed to help preserve consumer traffic.
Boatright has also committed to giving regular updates on construction progress and movement as Streetscape progresses. As he receives information from construction workers, he will pass whatever he hears along to building owners and managers, he said.
Select businesses downtown, such as Stranger Than Fiction Books Plus, have back-door entrances, he added, which will help make up for temporary blockages.
Boatright expressed overall confidence in the experience and expertise of LandPlan consultants.
“We want to make sure we have a good plan so that traffic can flow as clearly as possible, because we know that would affect businesses in that area,” Boatright said.
The only factor truly concerning those involved in the overhaul of downtown infrastructure is weather. Construction in the past has been delayed by constant precipitation, something Boatright said is his “worst nightmare.”
The city, nevertheless, has expressed plans to keep everybody affected by the construction up to date, and will do all it can to ensure an expedient, effective remodel.
“With any kind of construction, there’s always going to be some kind of inconvenience,” Boatright said. “Whether it’s the parking or people walking on the sidewalk, we’re going to do our best to minimize that.”