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Downtown project still ahead of schedule

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Vandalia’s downtown enhancement project continues to progress ahead of schedule, and – weather permitting – much of the major work could be done by the end of this year.

“I’d say that we’re every bit of three weeks (ahead of schedule),” Terry Fields of Hank’s Excavating said after Vandalia Main Street’s “Mornings on Main Street” meeting on Wednesday morning.

Fields and Gary Vandeloo of HMG Engineers gave an update on the downtown enhancement project to about 12 people at the meeting held at the Fayette County Museum.

Fields said the foundations for the new period street lights and signs are being poured this week, and that the electrical subcontractor arrived at the site on Tuesday.

By Friday, Fields said, they hope to be pouring sidewalks in the 500 block of West Gallatin Street. They then hope to start pouring the concrete roadway next week, he said.

The water line contractor, Mettler Development of Highland, has completed 95 percent of that work, Vandeloo said. “So that inconvenience should go away soon,” he said.

Local merchants on hand for the meeting praised the project workers for accommodating the downtown merchants, and Vandeloo said they pledge to continue that commitment.

“If there are any special circumstances that require special access (to the businesses), we can lay down plywood,” he said.

“If we have a little notification, we can make accommodations,” he said.

Fields said the bricks to be used for the sidewalk edging and insets still have not yet been approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The work of laying those bricks will begin as soon as that approval is given.

The 600 block of Gallatin Street is now open for traffic, but Fields said there may be brief periods when it is closed for the safety of workers laying bricks in the sidewalks.

Main Street Program Manager Dana Whiteman asked why a stop sign for westbound traffic had been placed on Gallatin Street at Seventh Street, and Vandeloo said it was inadvertently put up. It will be removed some time in the future, he said.

By the end of October, Fields said, Hank’s hopes to have Gallatin Street west of Fifth Street open for traffic. “It looks very favorable,” he said.

And, he said, “We’re hoping to at least have all of the pavement work (between Third and Seventh streets) done by the end of the year.”

Whiteman asked how much of Gallatin Street can be used for Main Street’s Corn Day celebration on the last weekend of this month. Fields and Vandeloo said that the 300 and 400 blocks of Gallatin should be accessible for the celebration.