Fayette County

Sidewalk work, lane blockages on Main Street will last through July

Brothers Manuel Romero, left, and Conde Romero bundled the roots of a tree being removed for sidewalk construction Wednesday.
Brothers Manuel Romero, left, and Conde Romero bundled the roots of a tree being removed for sidewalk construction Wednesday.

A familiar sight resurfaced Wednesday in downtown Lexington as heavy equipment began tearing up sidewalks.

Work is starting on the north side of Main Street at PNC Bank. The project will proceed west to Martin Luther King Boulevard, then cross the street and head back east to Elm Tree Lane.

One lane of Main Street will be blocked as needed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday until the project is finished; work is scheduled to be "substantially completed" by July 15, said George Milligan, construction supervisor for the Department of Public Works.

In addition to wider sidewalks, the $2.6 million project will bring rain gardens and bike lanes. Sewers will be replaced as needed.

"It's exactly the same basic project" that brought new sidewalks and other improvements to West Main and Vine streets last year, Milligan said.

That phase of the work stretched from South Broadway to Martin Luther King along West Main and Vine streets. The city planned for work to stop before the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in September.

"We knew we would come back this spring and do the rest of it," Milligan said.

Rain gardens and the bike lane are intended to help the city become more environmentally friendly. The rain gardens will filter storm water to improve the quality of water that flows into streams.

Changes in street design, including the elimination of some parking spaces, were made to accommodate the bike lane, Milligan said.

The first phase of the project cost $4.7 million for Main and $4.9 for Vine. Including the cost of the current phase, Cheapside pavilion and the major overhaul of South Limestone from Avenue of Champions to Vine Street, the city will have spent about $23 million.

The money has come from a mix of federal, state and local funds.

On Tuesday afternoon, reaction to new sidewalks was mixed.

Coffman Knight, a customer at The Bar at 224 East Main Street, called the existing brick-paved sidewalks "dangerous" because the pavers are uneven and broken in places.

"They are in horrible condition. We need new sidewalks. Definitely. I don't know why people don't fall," Knight said.

Across the street at Dupree Financial Group, investment adviser Logan Foster viewed the new sidewalks as "a tremendous waste of money."

"When the city is technically broke — the police and firemen's pension fund has an unfunded liability — this is a luxury," he said.

Foster wondered whether city officials thought "everyone is going to sit outside (on the sidewalks) and drink wine like this was Paris, France?"

When sidewalk work stopped last year before the Games, "I was actually thankful. I thought it was over," he said.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader