Companies get final update before street reconstruction begins

Work could begin as soon as Monday.

Business owners in a construction zone along Superior Street expressed concerns Monday about access to their stores, particularly by delivery trucks, during the upcoming replacement of utilities and concrete.

Their primary concern in the affected area from Lake Avenue to Fourth Avenue West is truck access along Michigan Street. It’s of particular concern to craft breweries that receive frequent deliveries by long trucks. Duncan Swenson, who will lead the city’s coordination effort with the project, acknowledged the street is narrow but said it should accommodate deliveries if drivers are patient. Part of Third Avenue East has been designated as a turn-around area for trucks.

Another worry was expressed by a Graysolen Plaza resident, who noted residents having physical handicaps won’t have vehicle access. Currently, they are transported by special vans to grocery and other outlets to purchase goods. It was also noted that emergency responders also won’t have access to the main entrance to answer medical calls, which are frequent to the building.

Work is set to start April 8 and continue into October, but companies located between Third and Fourth Avenues will receive an extra several weeks before it begins. That segment of Superior Street will remain open until after Grandma’s Marathon on June 22. During the race, runners will be diverted to Michigan Street at Fourth Avenue East.

Those firms, however, could face a second interruption late this year or during 2020. In the 300 block, three buildings including the Voyageurs Motel will be demolished to make way for a high-rise apartment structure. And in the 400 block, the Amendola Building will be demolished to accommodate new Essentia structures. None of that work is expected to begin until late summer or early fall, raising the possibility that some of Superior Street will be closed a second year. Permanent concrete replacement on that segment is set to be delayed until those construction projects are completed. 

Greater Downtown Council President Kristi Stokes said she believes the street reconstruction will progress smoothly despite the challenges.

“We feel good about how the first phase of construction went last year,” she said, predicting Phase II will go just as well. 

Three parking ramps accessible from East First Street have more than enough space to accommodate shopper demand, said Jessica Stauber, a business district representative involved in the planning process. Free ramp parking will be available for one hour or less during the work, but drivers who park more than an hour will have to pay for the entire time they are in the ramp.

Weekly construction meetings are scheduled at 9 a.m. each Tuesday.