Sidewalk construction on Main Street has made moving around downtown a headache for motorists and pedestrians for most of the summer, but an end is in sight.
"We're shooting for Sept. 1," construction supervisor George Milligan said of the $2.6 million project, which is running more than a month behind schedule.
Work started in February on the north side of Main Street at PNC Bank. The project proceeded west to Martin Luther King Boulevard, crossed the street and is heading back east to Rose Street.
The most challenging portion of the sidewalk replacement has been on the south side of Main Street between Martin Luther King and Quality Street, where the Government Center, The Kentucky Theatre and Barney Miller's are.
"Work on this one block has taken probably at least two months," Milligan said.
The sidewalk has been torn out, and a large trench has been dug to replace 110 feet of sanitary sewer line and accommodate a new storm sewer line.
This portion of sidewalk also had a serious drainage problem. The existing grade of the street has been lowered as much as 5 inches to improve drainage, Milligan said.
Kentucky Theatre manager Fred Mills had worried that construction might impede movie patrons, particularly on Wednesday nights when 600 to 800 people show up for the Summer Classic Film Series.
"Fred went out and explained that to the project manager. The man said he would do what he could to make a path on Wednesday nights," assistant manager Jeff Barnett said.
For the most part, the effort was successful, Barnett said. Complaints from ticket holders have been few.
"People got used to the idea (of sidewalk construction) last summer when the work was going on further down on West Main Street," said Barnett.
Tim Pearse, who works at Barney Miller's, said the construction has posed little inconvenience to the home entertainment business because most of its customers enter the store from the back parking lot.
The last block to get sidewalks will be from Quality to Rose streets, Milligan said.
"That will not be as disruptive or take as long, in part because storm sewer work has already been done there," he said. "Only sidewalks, curbs and rain gardens have to be built.
Milligan said the contractor is working six days a week.
One lane of traffic between Rose Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard is blocked at all times. A second lane is blocked from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
With the Midsummer Night's Run downtown Saturday, work crews will be cleaning up the street as much as possible this weekend, Milligan said, and temporary lights will be installed to improve visibility.
The first phase of the downtown sidewalk project, which was completed in September, brought new sidewalks and other improvements to West Main and Vine streets. That work went from South Broadway to Martin Luther King Boulevard along both sides of West Main and Vine.
The first phase of the project cost $4.7 million for Main Street and $4.9 million for Vine Street. The money has come from a mix of federal, state and local funds.