Work on the downtown improvement project resumed Tuesday morning, but just hours after Bleigh Construction personnel cracked open Main Street, questions were being asked regarding when work would be shut down in advance of Hannibal's first major street event of 2013.
Anxious to receive some firm answers Tuesday afternoon at city hall were organizers of the Twain on Main festival, which is scheduled Memorial Day weekend. But the only thing Steve Zeiger of Bleigh Construction could guarantee was that he could make no promises.
"I can't guarantee anything," Zeiger told the group of approximately 20 people. "I can't control the weather and I don't know what the weather will be like over the next two weeks."
Another consideration is what the river level is. Although the project area is west of the downtown flood wall, water was already seeping into the hole dug by Bleigh workers on Tuesday.
"We wanted to start three weeks ago, but had an issue with the high river level," said Zeiger. "Right now the hole is half full of water."
"The high ground water is not going away soon," said Mark Rees, city engineer. "It will be a struggle to get the drainage (system) in."
After crest Sunday of 21.02 feet, the river stage in Hannibal was 20.2 feet Tuesday afternoon. The decline is expected to continue until the river reaches 19 feet Friday, where it is forecast to remain until early next week.
Zeiger estimated that half the installation of the storm-water system will have been completed at the Bird Street/Main Street intersection by month's end.
John Lyng inquired as to how many vendor slots might be in jeopardy as a result of the work in the 300 block of Main Street. Zeiger projected that half of the 13 vendor slots on the west side of the street might have to be relocated.
Erik Spence reported that there are currently enough empty vendor slots that those being relocated should be able to remain on Main Street. Zeiger estimated that by next week he should have a good idea regarding how many vendor slots will be impacted.
Zeiger did indicate that pedestrians will be able to walk through the idle work zone and reach vendors on either side of the Bird/Main intersection during Twain on Main.
While city officials are focused on not disrupting Twain on Main, National Tom Sawyer Days and the Folk Life Festival, other events could have to be relocated. Tom Boland asked specifically about the Great Race that is scheduled to visit Hannibal on June 24.
Rees did not think there would be a great impact on the amount of parking that will be available in late June since the project will be winding down again because of National Tom Sawyer Days.
Page 2 of 2 - Rees told those gathered he does not expect the project to be completed before Thanksgiving.
"And that depends on the weather," added Mayor Roy Hark.