Following four months of underground construction, Ardmore’s Streetscape Project will finally begin seeing the light.
In January, contractors from Ardmore’s public utility department, Oklahoma Gas and Electric and Oklahoma Natural Gas began installing water lines, sewer lines, gas lines and electrical wiring.
With crews from ONG finalizing the finishing touches on their work, Ardmore Assistant City Manager Kevin Boatright said above-ground construction on Phase 1 of the $3.4 million project could begin as soon as next week.
“Our contractor [Wynn Construction] will come in right behind them,” Boatright said. “The first four months of construction was on utilities. The Streetscape project itself will start at the beginning of May.”
Phase 1 of the Streetscape project is expected to wrap up by March 2019, five months later than its original October 2018 completion date. Boatright said the project was delayed due to ONG undergoing a much more expansive installation project and concerns from Wynn Construction and various crews working underground getting in each other’s way.
The project will involve repaving roads and sidewalks on East Main Street from Washington Street to D Street and a portion of Caddo Street up to 2nd Street. After construction, the portion of East Main Street will be a two-way road. The project will add widened sidewalks, landscaping and a landscaped median to split the roads.
After ONG contractors complete the finishing touches on the groundwork sometime in the next seven days, Boatright said various involved parties will hold a pre-construction meeting, laying out a plan to minimize interruption to traffic along Main Street as well as its impact on the shops in the area.
“There should be no time on East Main where the entire block is blocked off,” Boatright said. “It may be the north or south side, but our hope is to provide as much help as we can for cars to drive up and down the area with as minimal disruption as possible.”
Main Street Authority General Manager Jeff DiMiceli said communication will be key in the project. He said as construction crews get to work, the Main Street Authority will help promote businesses to lessen the impact of construction, boosting the shops along East Main Street with signage as well as planning some events to keep people aware.
“We’re just going to help and let people know that those businesses on the east end of Main Street are still open for business,” DiMiceli said.
DiMiceli said he thought the project would be completed ahead of schedule.
“I think it could be completed sooner than [the holidays],” he said. “But we’ll see.”
DiMiceli said no business should be closed for more than one or two days during the project.
“It’s going to be a great project,” he said. “There’s some concern with shop owners. It’s unforeseen territory for now. Our job is to make it as unstressful as possible and keep people in the loop.”
Stephanie Choate, owner of Ardmore Emporium —  an antique shop that hosts around 65 vendors — also believed the project would be finished before the holidays, with the estimate of construction lasting until March 2019 coming as a surprise.
“I thought it was going to be done in the fall,” she said.
Regardless, Choate said she’s excited about the project and said long-term it would be a good thing for her vendors, Main Street and the city as a whole.
“Whenever it’s all done it’s going to be wonderful, beautiful and bring tourists down Main Street,” she said. “It’s going to be good for Ardmore.”
Ardmore Emporium is one of the businesses with a back entrance and parking behind their building. Choate said it’s a lucky break for her. But some businesses, like her next-door neighbor Ten Star pizza, don’t have the same luxury.
“I’ll probably be talking to the [Ten Star] owner and let them use our entrance for their lunch rush,” she said.
Choate said during construction it’s going to be all hands on deck for downtown Ardmore.