Lexington Vice Mayor Jim Gray would like to see a major overhaul of a section of South Limestone conducted one block at a time.
Sequencing the work might lessen the impact to the more than two dozen businesses along the affected stretch between the Avenue of Champions and Vine Street, he said.
By carefully sequencing the construction, it should be possible to avoid shutting down both blocks at the same time, he said.
Gray's comments came at Tuesday's Urban County Council work session, which was attended by several people who own businesses along South Limestone.
"I think you need to understand how worried and fearful we are," Beth Hanna, owner of Hanna's on Lime restaurant, told the council.
The city plans to replace sanitary and storm sewer lines, bury utility lines, establish a dedicated bike lane and install new street lights, trees, rain gardens and limestone markers along the section. Local officials want the work to be started this summer and be finished in a year's time.
In the past few days, officials made modifications to the city's request for bids on the project, taking into account things like dust control and access to businesses in the area. The addenda were made after several business owners complained that they had not been told that the street would be closed for at least four months and partially closed for eight more. One of the addenda includes monetary incentives for finishing the work ahead of schedule.
The business owners started the South Limestone Business Owners Association to deal with the issue. The organization conducted a survey several days ago, and six of the 20 respondents said the planned shutdown or partial shutdown of the street would put them out of business.
Ten of the business operators said their businesses would be disrupted totally, with layoffs necessary. Three more said there would be some layoffs.
Only one said that closing or partially closing the street would cause just a mild disruption. The businesses responding to the survey employ 154 people.
The South Limestone project is the most complicated of several projects designed to beautify downtown streets and will take the longest to complete, so it's being done first, said Susan Straub, spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Newberry.
"The changes themselves are being done to improve our downtown" and to strengthen the connection between the University of Kentucky campus and downtown, not specifically for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, she said.
Straub reiterated that the city shared the business owners' concerns and will do everything possible to assure that they receive deliveries and that there is pedestrian access to the establishments.
Third District Urban County Councilwoman Diane Lawless, who represents the South Limestone area, will be observing the bid selection process regarding the project. Bids are scheduled to be opened on Friday.