he downtown Columbus Streetscape is about to look a whole lot better.
After a summer of pedestrians dodging orange barrels, gravel, holes, orange webbing and sidewalk-closed signs, the corners of Second and Third streets along Washington Street are being restored, said Heather Pope, the city’s redevelopment director.
The Columbus Redevelopment Commission is spending nearly $70,000 to return the torn-up intersections to their former appearance.
The corners are in front of the Bartholomew County Courthouse and near The Commons, where State Road 46 runs one-way eastbound and westbound through downtown.
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The brick pavers are being restored at the four corners of Third and Washington streets and two of the corners at Washington and Second streets.
Since May, the Indiana Department of Transportation has installed new traffic signals, new curb ramps and new push poles — those “push to get a walk sign” pedestrian buttons that needed to be upgraded to new handicap-accessible standards.
To accomplish all that, contractors tore out decorative brick pavers and concrete and blocked off the sidewalks while installing new silver traffic signal polls and gently sloping ramps.
But as that portion of the project wraps up, city garage workers are stepping in to put the pavers back in and restore the sidewalk’s distinctive look along Washington.
It will cost the city about $6,000 in materials and manpower of five workers to replace the pavers, which will take a few weeks, Pope said.
The city is spending about $25,000 on decorative clamshell bases painted to match the poles and for the matching lights, which also need to be painted.
INDOT’s silver poles need to be painted black to match the former Streetscape design, Pope said. That will happen later this fall, she said, and the city plans to use electrostatic painting, which will cost about $19,000.
The city also is paying Dave O’Mara Contracting $15,543 to pour the concrete ramps to prepare for the city workers to reinstall the pavers.
So far, total cost of restoring the Streetscape is inching toward the $70,000 mark. As of this week, the cost was at $66,315, Pope said.
INDOT and its contractors are not allowed to pay for Streetscape restoration because work on State Road 46 is being funded with federal highway dollars, said Harry Maginity, INDOT spokesman.
Overall planning for the Washington Street Streetscape project began in 1985, including hiring Texas planner Paul Kennon to create a concept that would bring new life to the downtown corridor.
By the early 1990s, the first stages were put in place. Bartholomew County already had bricked the walks around the Courthouse, and city planners took the design a step further. They created the Adopt-a-Brick program in which people could pay $25 to have their names or those of family members inscribed on a brick as part of the Streetscape.
The bricks were sold in phases. By the time the effort was completed, more than 6,000 were in place along Washington Street. A few hundred more were added when the new Commons was finished and the Streetscape around that building was completed.