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Business North - The Daily Briefing - Business Newspaper Online
BID helps Superior firms prepare for road construction
PHOTO: Artist's rendering of the North Tower Avenue streetscape, which will accompany the roadway reconstruction. (Courtesy of BID)
It could be a challenging year for people whose stores are located in Superior’s traditional downtown.
Beginning next month, contractors will begin ripping up North Tower Avenue for complete reconstruction. And “complete” is the operative word. Included will be new sidewalks, sewer lines and water lines.
“There is going to be no traffic on Tower. We recommend store owners lock their front doors,” Business Improvement District Executive Director Kaye Tenerelli said Wednesday at a breakfast gathering hosted by BMO Bank and the UWS Small Business Development Center. Twenty-five-foot-deep trenches will be dug to remove old infrastructure along the one-mile work zone, and store owners are asked to direct all customers to their back doors, using alley access.
Some of Tower Avenue’s concrete dates back to 1914 and the rest to 1935. For 77 years, the thoroughfare has been upgraded with blacktop overlays. Also hidden beneath the surface is a sewer system that combines sanitary waste with rain runoff, which today is illegal. It, too, will be replaced.
“The goal of the reconstruction is to completely replace the infrastructure and improve safety. This particularly part of Tower Avenue (from Belknap to North Third Street) has a high pedestrian accident rate and a high vehicle accident rate. This also will improve mobility in downtown Superior,” Tenerelli said.
The design, which took years to formulate, represents a vast departure from the existing four-lane roadway.
• It will feature eight-foot parking lanes.
• A bike lane will be added, which is required of projects that receive federal funds.
• Driving lanes will be 12-feet wide.
• A raised 12-foot-wide center median will be constructed from Belknap to North Eighth Street, and a narrower flat median from North Eighth to North Third Streets, which is part of a truck route.
• New lighting will be installed at intersections.
• Traffic signals will be moved from the intersection of Hammond Avenue and Broadway Street to the official truck route at Hammond and Winter Street.
• Sidewalks will be replaced by scored, colored concrete.
• Parking lots and vacant space will be complemented with vegetation.
“We have developed a fencing and planting plan that softens it down, because right now, it looks like big, cold, barren space, Tenerelli said.
The goal is to complete work by late fall, with construction shifts scheduled seven days a week from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. Contractors are yet to be named.
Some amenities will be added in 2014, primarily trees and other vegetation that are part of the project’s $1.5 million streetscaping element.
Planners are fully aware of the business impact such a large project could have prior to its conclusion.
“Road construction is a business owner’s worst nightmare. There’s no way around it. So we’re trying to find a way to soften the blow as much as we can,” Tenerelli said. “We hope to make this painless and keep commerce moving.”
Toward that goal, the BID has developed a tool kit for merchants. It includes maps, marketing tips, safety tips, signage information and explains why it’s important to have a web site during construction. The BID will sponsor special promotions to increase customer traffic, and Tenerelli encouraged individual businesses to do the same.
Consumers shouldn’t let the construction activity scare them away, said Chamber of Commerce Director Dave Minor.
“Our community needs you to visit those businesses. Don’t abandon them for the next eight-and-a-half months and expect to see them when the project is done,” he said.
The challenge will continue after Tower Avenue is reconstructed. The Bong Bridge will close for two years for its first major upgrade since opening nearly 30 years ago. Then, Belknap Street will be reconstructed for the first time in approximately the same time period.
Despite the inconvenience, Tenerelli said Superiorites support the North Tower Avenue improvements, even though must of the retail base has moved south.
“Believe it or not, the majority still consider downtown Superior their downtown, and they want it revitalized,” she said.
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