Power outlets will be part of downtown sidewalk project

It is not uncommon to find trees on North Main Street wrapped in decorative lights. From where those lights will get the power they need to shine had become a point of discussion in recent weeks. Were the necessary power outlets, referred to as festival boxes, part of the downtown sidewalk project or not?
“Festival boxes were in the plans, but multiple bid addendums obscured those requirements in the eyes of the contractor. Consequently, they were not bid as a result of the addendum confusion, though they were always intended,” said City Manager Jeff LaGarce. “The contractor is providing us a separate price for installation of conduit and festival boxes at each tree box. We should receive that quote this week.”
The festival boxes were a point of discussion during a meeting between representatives of the city and the project’s contractor, Bleigh Construction, last Friday morning.
“It was a productive discussion,” said Mark Rees, city engineer. “We’ll have a resolution that everybody will be happy with.”
Who will absorb the additional expense, the city, North Main merchants, or could the cost be split between the two?
“It seems like we were fretting the whole time (about the project’s cost), but when the bids came in so favorably I personally feel it took a little bit of pressure off the (project’s) budget and with other things where we’ve been able to save money here and there, there’s a chance we could help out here. I don’t see this as a budget buster,” said Rees.

Project pace

Headway continues to be made on the sidewalk project.
“Right now our big milestone is to get buttoned up the best we can before Folk Life and I think we’re going to do just fine there,” said Rees. “We won’t break open anything else until after Folk Life (Oct. 20 and 21). What we’ll have to do is look at the forecast the week after Folk Life. The contractor will decide how aggressive they want to be. It sounds like right now they’re leaning toward doing one side of the next block and trying to get that in before the Christmas shopping season.”
Thus far the project is “on schedule,” according to Rees.
“It’s a challenge working between these festivals. Ideally you would crack open all four blocks, get it all ready, (get) the curbs in, then do the concrete, but what a massive inconvenience for three or four months. This way (one block at a time) it might take us longer,” he said.
City officials are hopeful the project, which will see new sidewalk, curb and gutter installed along North Main from North Street to Broadway, will be done sooner than later.
During last week’s Tree Board meeting, LaGarce expressed hope that two sections of the project can be completed before the end of the year.
“If they can do the third section in January or February they might be done with the fourth section before the (April 2013) Just Girls Weekend,” he said.
“You’ve heard me predict concern about Tom Sawyer Days next year, but with the way Bleigh has been working I don’t predict that often any more. I think they’ll be done way ahead of that,” said Rees. “Of course we’ll need a normal working spring. Winter can’t last until mid-April and expect to have it done.”