Downtown benefits worth disruptions

After years of discussion and planning, construction has finally gotten under way on the downtown enhancement project in Vandalia.

This first phase will involve work to shore up the infrastructure in the in downtown area – specifically, the sewer lines. One benefit of the project will be that sanitary sewer and storm sewer lines will be split – so all rain runoff won’t have to go through the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

This preliminary work – which is being done by Mettler Development Inc. of Highland – so far has focused on sewer lines in the alley between Fourth and Fifth streets. Similar projects will be undertaken throughout the downtown area before the major work on Gallatin Street begins in earnest later this spring.

One fact that should give us some comfort as we launch the project is that the contractor the city has hired to do the streetscape work – Hanks Excavating & Landscaping of Belleville – has been through this process before. The company recently completed a downtown renovation project for the city of Belleville. Their experience there will give them insights on how to do the work with the least disruption possible to downtown businesses.

To help merchants prepare for the construction, a meeting will be held next Tuesday at 5 p.m. at city hall to inform citizens and business owners about the construction plans. Project engineers and city officials will be available to answer questions and share information about the project.

We’re confident that downtown Vandalia will emerge stronger and more attractive to shoppers and merchants once the project is completed. We’ll have updated water and sewer lines. We’ll have sanitary sewer lines that are separate from storm sewer lines. And we’ll have an attractive downtown – with underground electrical lines, period lighting, brick-trimmed sidewalks, benches and other old-time elements that will welcome tourists to our historic community.

Undoubtedly, a project of this magnitude in the downtown shopping district will produce some challenges for those who work and shop there. However, as construction begins, we must keep the end in mind in order to get through the occasional inconveniences we’ll encounter along the way.

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