By Jef Rietsma
Vicksburg’ downtown construction project is about 80 percent completed, Village Manager Jim Mallery estimated, with crews nearer to ending their work until spring. The balance of the work, mainly on Washington from Michigan to a sewage lift station and storm water outflow opposite Clark Park plus a water line on adjacent Mill Street, will be completed in 2022.
Mallery was virtually sure that the one-way block of South Main Street from Prairie to Washington and Washington from Main to Michigan would be open to traffic as the South County News is distributed to readers.
Mallery offered updates on project components. Asphalt plants are now closed, so the base layer of asphalt on Washington Street will remain as is until the project resumes, he said. “It’s just a base layer but that’s far better than leaving it gravel,” Mallery said. “I think it’s key to note that curbs are in on Washington, and we poured the two approach aprons into the large parking lot behind the Distant Whistle and hardware store.”
Mallery said one important task centers on signage in the heart of downtown. He said all appropriate signage will be up on Main Street between Prairie Street and Washington Street to indicate it is a southbound, one-way block. “Do Not Enter” signs facing northbound traffic on Main at Washington were erected last week. That intersection is now a four-way stop and the switch to one-way traffic was due to start Dec. 6.
He also mentioned a priority that may or may not get done before spring. “It’s our goal to have, at minimum, temporary striping for parking and specifically the handicapped parking spots on Washington,” Mallery said. “The contractor feels it can be done in December after a close look at the weather. Hopefully it all gets striped but it’s weather-dependent. At minimum, we should have temporary tape put down.”
Mallery said sidewalks have been power-washed and a street sweeper will make its rounds at some point this month so they are clean and tidy for the winter.
He provided an update on electrical work yet to be conducted downtown. “Starting the week of Dec. 6, the wiring will begin to be run for all the street lights,” he said. “As a side note, we have a contingency plan for (the Dec. 11) Christmas in the Village parade and events… we’re going to have five separate light banks so they’ll light up the intersections and light up the mid-blocks because I don’t think all of those street lights will be up, if any.”
Traffic signals, meanwhile, won’t be in place until January due to a supply-chain interruption, Mallery added.
He said the village is in a much better shape now than it was six months ago. He noted a few outstanding matters to be addressed in 2022.
“We still have some sewer/water and storm work between Michigan and the lift station on Washington Street,” he said “And in the area of Mill Street between Prairie and Washington, we’re going to hit that with a new water main and get all those people on an appropriate water supply.”
Also, sidewalks on Washington between Main and Michigan will get done, permanent striping will get put down and permanent crosswalks will be installed. The crosswalks will use the same tinted concrete as that used on Main Street.
Mallery said he is confident he will never see a construction project of this magnitude in Vicksburg in his lifetime.