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Fourth Street stretch reopens; work not done yet

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Motorists should be able to drive along the length of the $1.7 million Fourth Street beautification project no later than Saturday afternoon.

They just won’t be able to park in that section of downtown Columbus immediately.

Rieth-Riley, the general contractor for the project, made enough progress on the portion from Washington to Franklin streets to reopen that stretch around 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Gary Davis, project superintendent for Rieth-Riley, said the stretch from Jackson to Washington streets would be finished no later than Saturday afternoon.


Sept. 4: $1.7 million beautification project begins for Fourth Street between Jackson and Franklin streets. New amenities will include benches, planters, trees and light poles.

Sept. 12: Intersection of Fourth and Washington streets closes for construction, two days later than originally planned.

Oct. 18: Intersection of Fourth and Washington streets reopens to traffic, five days after the original schedule.

Nov. 7: Rieth-Riley Construction’s personal target date to complete project.

Nov. 22: Ongoing work forces postponement of grand-opening celebration, planned for today, until the spring.

Monday: City Engineer Dave Hayward said Fourth Street would definitely reopen this week, and the portion from Washington to Franklin streets could open as early as Wednesday for traffic.

Tuesday: The Indiana Department of Transportation’s original deadline to have the project completed.

Wednesday: Eastern portion of Fourth Street project reopened for traffic about 6 p.m. Gary Davis, project superintendent for Rieth-Riley, said the western portion would be open for traffic by Saturday afternoon. Parking will be prohibited on the street, though, until additional is completed next week.

January: Decorative gates to be installed.

City Engineer Dave Hayward said Monday that Fourth Street would definitely reopen this week and that the eastern half could possibly open Wednesday at the earliest.

Wednesday morning, barricades blocked both ends of the eastern half. In between, some workers used brooms to push tiny rocks in between the brick pavers. Others sanded the edges of the concrete planters. One was placing caulk where the new sidewalks are flush with buildings.

Davis said he also was waiting for soil to be delivered to put into the tree planters, so the trees could be planted. That was delayed, he said, because of an issue involving approval of the topsoil.

By the afternoon, workers had finished with the rocks and sanding and were starting to install benches along the sides of the street.

The western half of the project, from Jackson to Washington streets, had more work remaining than the eastern part Wednesday morning.

A worker was cutting small pieces of brick to wedge into remaining spaces between the other bricks. The small rocks still had to be swept between the bricks. Caulking and sanding remained to be done, too.

By the afternoon, the brick cutting was complete and rocks were being swept into the cracks and compacted.

Davis and Hayward said parking would be prohibited on Fourth Street until the planters and some additional work was finished. No-parking signs will be posted.

“I’m hoping by the end of next week we’ll be done with everything,” Davis said.

Nov. 7 had been the original target date for Rieth-Riley to complete the project, but weather delays and other hiccups have caused it to take longer. The Indiana Department of Transportation’s deadline to complete the project before imposing penalties on the contractor was Tuesday, but Davis said INDOT has extended the deadline.

Davis and Hayward said Rieth-Riley actually has until April 1 to complete the work before penalties are incurred, but both assured the project would be finished long before that.

Davis said Rieth-Riley workers will be around next week for expected finishing touches. That includes installing water boxes next to some light poles.

The boxes connect to water mains, which will allow street vendors to use water during block parties. Shipment of the water boxes was delayed, Davis said.

Decorative gates for the streets won’t be installed until January.

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