Ready to roll on Broadway
On May 12, a major road construction project will begin in downtown Alexandria on Highway 29/Broadway Street.
The four-and-a-half block project will include rebuilt roads and infrastructure, along with new sidewalks and features like landscaping and decorative benches and light posts.
During a news conference last Thursday, project details were rolled out, including a construction schedule, detour maps and comments from local officials.
The road construction project will be completed in three phases this summer. This is the preliminary plan:
● • PHASE I: The project will start on Monday, May 12 at the north end of Broadway Street, near the National Guard Armory, between Third and Fourth Avenues and it will progress southward from that point to Sixth Avenue.
This phase is expected to run through July 3.
•PHASE II: During the month of July, construction will focus on the Sixth Avenue intersection.
•PHASE III: Then, during August and September, this phase will include work on the section from Sixth to Eighth Avenues.
One phase must be finished before proceeding to the next, according to City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven.
A phase is considered “done” when that section of road is open to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
The project’s substantial completion date target is October 3, Schoonhoven said.
The final completion date is October 17.
In the meantime, there’s a lot of planning under way.
Schoonhoven said, “We received very good bids [on the project] and the low bidder was a company called Sellin Brothers, Inc. out of Hawley, Minnesota, who we’ve worked with before. They’re a terrific company and we have great expectations; I think they’ll do a great job. I’ve had several conversations with them already and we’re moving ahead.”
The Alexandria City Council is scheduled to award bids during its April 14 meeting.
“Between April 14 and May 12, there’s a lot of activity and one of the most important ones that happens is the pre-construction meeting,” said Schoonhoven.
That’s where they’ll start compiling project details and generating a precise timeline for the project.
During construction, there will be several detour routes:
● In-town: Hawthorne Street to the east and Fillmore Street to the west.
● Around-town: County Road 45 to the west and County Road 46 to the east. This is the designated detour for truck traffic.
Detour signage will go up Sunday, May 11 and routes will go into effect Monday, May 12.
Detours will be in place for the entire construction season. However, in-town detours will be adjusted as phases are completed, Schoonhoven said.
The downtown road construction project will not only impact traffic, but business too and there’s been a lot of effort put toward planning ahead and including business owners in meetings leading up to the groundbreaking.
During a news conference last Thursday, Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson told reporters, “The impact on us is going to be great and we firmly believe that or we wouldn’t be doing this project. When this is all said and done, it will bring more people, more tourists to shop our downtown and business will be better, and the infrastructure that’s old and decaying needs to be done.
“We know, of course, that this summer will be painful. Any kind of construction is painful. But it will be a pain that’s well worth it. There’s been a lot of time and energy that’s gone into making sure it goes as smoothly as possible. In the end, when it’s done, we will be a better city by 1,000 times so I’m very excited for this project,” she said.
Downtown business owner Dan Botker added, “We know it’s going to be tough for all of us but we’re excited for the final outcome. As a downtown business owner, I can assure you that most of the downtown businesses are looking forward to the final completion of this project in October when we can finally enjoy a fresh new look of downtown Alexandria.
“One of the things I’m truly impressed with was the decision to divide the project into three different phases. By doing that, it guarantees that no one business is going to have the streets in front of their building torn up for more than six to eight weeks max,” Botker said.
The Alexandria Downtown Merchants Association reportedly has plans to sponsor several events through the summer to encourage people to visit and shop downtown.