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Downtown project still ahead of schedule

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Because of the weather and the holidays, work on the downtown enhancement project has come to a stop until after the first of next year.

But that will not cause the project to be delayed past the scheduled completion date.

In fact, the downtown project continues to be far ahead of schedule, according to reports from city officials.

At Monday’s meeting of the Vandalia City Council, Mayor Rick Gottman reported that the project is about 85-percent complete.

At last week’s “Mornings on Main Street” meeting held by Vandalia Main Street, Gary Vandeloo of HMG Engineers of Carlyle, reported to local merchants that workers have completed the pouring of the new concrete roadway between Third and Fifth streets, and that work has begun on sidewalks in that two-block area.

Main Street Manager Dana Whiteman said on Tuesday that the sidewalks on the south side of the 400 block of Gallatin Street have been completed, and that workers have also poured sidewalks in front of city hall and a number of other businesses in that area.

“They are probably done working until the first of the year,” Whiteman said, noting that weather conditions would likely prevent any more work being done both this week and next.

“They need a stretch of two or three good days of weather, and weather forecasts don’t show that,” she said, noting that the break is due to the observances of Christmas and New Year’s Day.

“After the first of the year, they will be getting back on the sidewalk work and in doing the brickwork, weather permitting, of course,” she said.

After the sidewalks are completed, electricians will come in to complete wiring work and streetlights in those two blocks will be installed, Whiteman said.

“They are hoping to get Fourth Street open sometime in the near future,” she said.

The original schedule for the project ­– which includes new infrastructure, new sidewalks with brick edging and insets, a new roadway, period lighting to replace the overhead street lights and the relocation of utility lines – called for the work to be completed in June 2010.

“Gary told us on Friday that the schedule called for the road to be completed by March 23, so they are way ahead of schedule on that,” Whiteman said.

“They are also ahead of schedule with the sidewalks, which were to be completed by May 5,” she said.

One part of the project that has been questioned is the illumination from the new street lights.

At the Dec. 7 meeting of the city council, Alderman Jerry Swarm asked whether the lighting provided by the new lights at the intersection of Sixth and Gallatin streets is indicative of what will be provided all along the stretch of Gallatin.

Lorne Jackson of HMG told Swarm that all intersections will be lighted like the one completed at this point, and that there were two options under Illinois Department of Transportation standards.

“You would either have low (light), as we have, or high, to meet highway standards,” Jackson.

Gottman also questioned some of the sidewalk work.

“I’m real concerned with the dropoffs in front of stores,” Gottman said. “That’s really dangerous.”

Jackson said the sidewalks were poured in a way that would eliminate steps going into businesses. “It was about the only way that we would meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements,” he said.

“We can look at painting a stripe along that edge (of the sidewalks)” to alert pedestrians of dropoffs, Jackson said.