Fourth Street set for facelift in trail project

(More details on Fourth Street’s design were discussed at informational meetings Monday evening and this morning.)

 

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Construction of the improved Fourth Street and the street’s section of the Heritage Trail should start in February.

More details on the street’s design were discussed at informational meetings Monday evening and this morning.

“We’re really excited where we’re at,” Mayor Denny Spinner told a group of 20 business and property owners at Monday’s meeting. “We’ve been talking about this since August 2014, and we’re here tonight to give you some significant facts about where we are going.”

The Heritage Trail will ultimately be a path designed for pedestrians and bicyclists that will connect the city’s north and south sides. The trail is one of the projects the city is doing under its statewide Stellar Community designation.

According to the design shown, Fourth Street between Geiger and Jackson streets will have a driving lane and sidewalk; a lane situated between the two will be used optionally as a walking lane, parking area or space for outdoor uses by a business, like seating. Trees and planters will be placed in what is now the parking lane, leaving about three parking spaces in between the planters. Businesses will have options for using part of the sidewalk or the parking lane in front of their business for enhancements like seating.

Rendering courtesy VS Engineering, Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group

“Fourth Street is being preserved with driving lanes in both directions, so we are not altering the street’s direction. There will be two lanes of traffic,” said Ron Taylor of Indianapolis-based Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group. There will still be parking all along Fourth Street. But we think that the sidewalk and pedestrian experience is going to be better along that.”

City officials would use bollards and a temporary gate to close off the street for festivals, Taylor said.

The trees being considered are thornless honey locust trees, Taylor said. The trees don’t grow fruit, drop very few leaves and are airy enough so that the street’s historic design is not blocked, he said. Amenities, like benches and trash receptacles will be traditional-looking to fit with the street’s historic design, Taylor said. H-shaped bike racks will also be installed; those are being designed and donated by a Dubois County Leadership Academy group, he said.

Drainage will be in the center of the street, said project engineer Nick Jahn of Indianapolis-based VS Engineering, so in the event of rainy weather, the water will drain to the middle of the street instead of on the sides.

Rendering courtesy VS Engineering, Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group

Business owners seemed to like the design. “This will give us some outside dining options without disrupting pedestrian access,” said Old School Cafe co-owner Sandy Ahlemeier. “That’s helpful to us.”

“We know there will be some disruptions for a time,” said Bob Ahlemeier, Old School co-owner and Sandy’s husband. “But the end result will be worth it.”

The design was approved by the state, Jahn said. Downtown Fourth Street is a designated historic district and must adhere to certain stipulations to keep that designation.

A parking study was also completed to determine what kind of parking was within reasonable walking distance of the downtown area, including on side streets, Taylor said. The parking information will be used in a future public relations campaign to help visitors access businesses along the street during construction times, he said.

The project should go to bid in December and a construction company should be selected in February. The plan is to work on the east block — between U.S. 231 and Jackson Street — from February to May 2018 and on the west block — U.S. 231 to Geiger Street — from June and August 2018. The street’s intersection with U.S. 231 will be worked on from September to October 2018. All work will be done before the 2018 Christmas Stroll, Jahn said.

Rendering courtesy VS Engineering, Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group

During construction, Fourth Street will not be accessible to vehicular traffic. However, it will be accessible to pedestrians. Access for deliveries to businesses will be worked out with the construction company. A heavy PR campaign will be done throughout the construction period to make sure customers and visitors know that businesses will still be open and help them get to the businesses, Taylor said.

When asked about deliveries by semis after the construction is complete, Taylor said that it is likely that semis will not be able to use the street because of its narrowness. Spinner added that he will talk to business owners about getting their delivery companies to use smaller trucks to make deliveries on the road, and the city will help talk to delivery companies about those options.

John Songer, owner of the Gaslight, said he is excited about the improvements. “With this and Market Street (Park), it’s going to be a great enhancement to downtown,” he said. “It’s great that the city is having this forward thinking. You can’t wait for people to come to you. You have to give people a reason to come.”




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