By BRADEN LAMMERS
It will take a little longer than originally expected to roll out the red carpet into Jeffersonville.
The Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission approved an extension of time for Pace Contracting LLC to complete the reconstruction of Chestnut Street. The extension will push the overall completion date of the project back three days. It also pushes back the reopening of Chestnut Street itself by 32 days.
Chestnut Street’s reconstruction is designed to create a corridor that will draw and welcome people coming off the Big Four bicycle and pedestrian bridge into historic downtown Jeffersonville. In addition to serving as a welcoming corridor for pedestrians and bicyclists coming off the yet-to-be-completed bridge ramp, Chestnut Street has been designed to serve as a showcase to lure commercial investment downtown.
So far, it seems to be working.
Several restaurants and retail spaces have announced plans to locate around the bridge landing since the start of the Chestnut Street project. Among those are Big Four Burgers + Beer, Olive Leaf Bistro, Pearl Street Treats and Red Yeti Brewing Co. Recently a ceramic studio, Silica, announced it will open on Spring Street next week.
The new completion date will push Chestnut Street’s opening beyond the last date given for the opening of Indiana’s ramp to the Big Four Bridge of Nov. 1. The original date for the ramp to open was in April, but delays largely tied to a change in the lighting plan for the ramp have pushed the anticipated contract completion date back more than six months. Multiple calls and messages to Indiana Department of Transportation officials seeking an update on the anticipated completion date of Indiana’s ramp were not returned.
Delays in the opening of Chestnut Street are not expected to be anywhere near the length of the delay experienced for the Big Four Bridge Ramp. Chestnut Street was originally slated to be closed for 60 days for its reconstruction and reopen by Sept. 15. That date was extended by 32 days and the new reopening date for the road has been set for Oct. 14.
Issues that led to Pace Contracting requesting the delay included the reconstruction of a brick manhole in the intersection of Chestnut and Spring streets and a waterline that the contractor discovered had deteriorated significantly.
The construction on the road was delayed several days as Pace allowed for Indiana American Water Co. to inspect and replace the water line under Chestnut Street. Indiana American owns the water line and it was the water company’s decision on whether or not to replace the 75-year-old line. The old line was replaced at Indiana American Water Co.’s expense, something city officials expressed their desire to see rather than have issues occur after the road had been reconstructed.
“We feel like it’s probably justified to add these extra days in,” said Grant Administrator Delynn Rutherford when she presented the request for extra time Wednesday. “They hit a lot of surprises.”
The project is being paid for by a $250,000 Main Street Revitalization grant from the state. The Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission and Urban Enterprise Zone are covering the remaining costs to widening the road, add bike lanes, sidewalks, new lighting, bike racks, benches and new trees.
The new completion date for the entire project has been moved from Nov. 1 to Nov. 4.
NO MOVEMENT ON MUSEUMS
Another project that has been ongoing for months is moving forward despite the potential threat of a lawsuit.
Earlier this month, the Jeffersonville City Council directed its attorney to determine the legality of two museums that are working to locate in buildings leased to them by the redevelopment commission. The Clark County Museum and Vintage Fire Museum and Safety Education Center have continued with renovations to the Michigan Avenue and Spring Street locations, respectively.
The potential lawsuit was not discussed at Wednesday’s meeting and Redevelopment Attorney Les Merkley expects legal action will be taken.
“I still expect it to proceed to court,” he said. “My feeling is that everything was done legally and proper and [the museums] can move forward.”