By Jef Rietsma
What’s believed to be the largest infrastructure project in Vicksburg’s history is moving ahead toward a seasonal shutdown. Weather permitting, asphalt paving may begin in this first week of November, Village Manager Jim Mallery said. That would reopen South Main and East and West Prairie to through traffic for the first time in weeks.
Village Manager Jim Mallery said weather would be a major wild card in determining if the final stage of work can be conducted in a timely manner. And one portion of the project will wait until next year: Underground work and resurfacing on Washington from Michigan to Mill Street.
In updates during the last half of October, the manager noted that curbs had been installed on Prairie and Richardson Streets, followed by sidewalks. Underneath the road, a sewer line was installed on Washington from Main to Michigan, and three of the leads connecting it with adjacent buildings were installed Oct. 18. A storm drain and water main were installed on that part of Washingon as well.
The block-long segment of Main Street south of Prairie, he noted, will be one-way southbound, with angled parking on the east side, parallel parking on the west.
That became apparent at the end of the last week in October when the new outline of Main Street was shown by placement of concrete curbs. The curbs on east and west sides of the street are about 13 and 14 feet apart at the narrowed entrance to the block -ong street and in the middle of the block.
Mallery said downtown streets will be 11-feet wide per lane. They were each 18-feet wide previously. Mallery said the narrower streets are expected to boost speed and overall safety. No trucks will be permitted on the one-way stretch of Main Street.
“That will be quite a transformation once the curbs are in and people start to see that,” Mallery said. “All the infrastructure is underground up through Washington. We still would love to get the furniture in and trees planted yet this year.”
Mallery also said fire-protection water-line stems have been installed in 15 buildings.
Mallery said crews were authorized to work Sundays. If weather isn’t an issue, Mallery said he expects to see a base coat of asphalt laid on Prairie Street and a significant amount of sidewalk in place downtown the first week of November. “The same asphalt company is paving some other roads, mainly Prairie from Boulevard to the west village limits.” In addition, the alley behind the Hideaway between Main and Kalamazoo will also be resurfaced in November.
“It’s our goal to have streetlights and traffic signals installed yet this calendar year … by mid-November I anticipate that,” he said.
Trustee Julie Merrill asked Mallery if the village could modify its streetlights before they are re-installed to be dark-sky compliant.
Mallery said he would look into the option. Dark-sky compliant lighting, intended to prevent nighttime light pollution, uses fixtures which prevent light shining above the horizontal.
Mallery also provided an update on the village’s social district, saying an effort is being made to develop a “hang-out” area. He explained that the concept emerged with the village’s creation of a downtown social district, and involves adding tables and benches.
The cost would be about $9,000. The manager said the purchase of eight tables would be acquired through Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority’s tax revenue.
“We would look at a minimum of three tables in front of the large bump-out on Prairie Street, in front of China One and the Hideaway, with the potential for other tables to be located at the northwest corner of Prairie and Kalamazoo, and the northeast corner of Prairie and Main, as well as Liberty Lane East,” he said.
Mallery said he expects additional fixtures to be added in the spring.
He said the tables will be bolted in place, and added that “quite a bit” of the furniture has been delivered and is currently in storage.
Mallery in an earlier update said more trees will be planted along downtown sidewalks than the number removed to accommodate construction. Later in October, he added that the trees won’t be planted until next year, saying it’s too late to expect them to survive the winter.