The end game for the city’s two-block Fourth Street beautification project appears to be in sight — finally.
“(Fourth Street) will definitely reopen this week,” City Engineer David Hayward said Monday.
Work crews had made significant progress by late Monday afternoon, installing large paving bricks virtually all the way from Washington Street to the corner of Fourth and Jackson by late afternoon, a sign that the reopening of Fourth Street to vehicles can’t be far behind.
“They’ve laid the big field of bricks, but they still have to do the trim, install little pieces and cut the edges to fit,” Hayward said. “That takes some more time.”
Hayward said Fourth Street might reopen in stages, with the block from Washington to Franklin opening first to cars “Wednesday at the soonest.” The leg from Washington to Jackson streets would open by the end of the week, he said.
Shortly before dusk, workers were installing the final few feet of decorative paving bricks atop the Fourth Street road bed between Washington and Jackson, and several street lighting poles were also in place on that stretch.
Meanwhile, the easternmost leg of the Fourth Street project (from Washington to Franklin streets) looked virtually complete. New paving, stop signs, street lights and trash cans were in place there, too.
Fourth Street has been closed to traffic downtown since early September when the project got under way to turn it into a pedestrian-friendly zone that can host citywide special events.
The fact that the project has dragged on past Thanksgiving, though, has upset some downtown shopkeepers who had counted on the work being done before Christmas shopping
began in earnest last week.
Weather delays and other snags in finishing the $1.7 million Fourth Street project led to postponement of a Nov. 29 community celebration that was to mark reopening of the roadway.
Originally, general contractor Rieth-Riley of Goshen had hoped to finish the work by Nov. 7. Several other informal targets have come and gone since then.
The project won’t be considered 100 percent complete until decorative gates are installed in January, allowing the road to be blocked off to stage special events. Hayward said the gates are being built now and will be delivered early next year.