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Weather puts weekend street opening in jeopardy


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Steady precipitation Monday morning brought the Fourth Street road project to a virtual standstill as concrete, dirt and brick-paving crews all were pulled off the project for the day, putting this weekend’s street opening in jeopardy.

“Altogether we’ve probably lost 10 or 12 days to rain stopping us from pouring concrete,” Gary Davis, project superintendent for general contractor Rieth-Riley, said while surveying the work scene late Monday afternoon. “I don’t think we’re going to make it, but I promise you we’ll give it our best shot.”

The sun broke through by mid-afternoon, when a few electrical workers were back at work, but paving crew members won’t return until this morning.

Brick paving is expected to start today on the stretch of Fourth Street between Washington and Franklin streets, Davis said, and that should take at least three days. Then, crews will move on to the other block of Fourth between Washington and Jackson streets to the western edge of the project.

Columbus City Engineer David Hayward and Davis had forecast last week that the $1.7 million street repaving and beautification job would be finished by this Friday or Saturday. The original timeline called for completion by Nov. 7, but weather and other factors made that schedule unattainable.

TIMELINE

Sept. 4

$1.7 million beautification project began for Fourth Street between Jackson and Franklin streets. New amenities to 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. Completion is subsequently postponed, first to Nov. 9 or 10, and then to Nov. 16 or 17. As of Monday, this weekend’s anticipated completion target was in doubt.

Nov. 27

The Indiana Department of Transportation’s deadline to have the project completed, although that date could be extended further if needed to compensate for additional weather delays.

Nov. 29

The city is planning a street-reopening event with high school bands and choirs among those invited.

The latest weather forecast calls for mostly sunny or partly cloudy skies with minor chances of rain through Sunday, with highs in the 40s to low 50s.

With improving weather conditions, “they should be able to make good progress,” Hayward said.

Late last week, work crews spread stone and gravel over the one-block eastern leg of the project between Washington and Franklin streets. A cement drainage line has been installed down the middle of that block, as well as the block between Washington and Jackson streets. The westernmost block still needs more stone and gravel spread to create a base over which paving bricks can be put in place.

As temperatures hovered in the low- to mid-30s Monday morning, a Bobcat and other heavy equipment used to spread the gravel and baseball-sized stone fragments stood idle. An unattended wheelbarrow was filled with tiny stone chips that will be spread shortly before paving begins.

Rectangular concrete planters are in place between Washington and Franklin streets, and more planters will go in on the western leg of the project soon. Trees are scheduled to be put in along sidewalks before Thanksgiving, Hayward said.

Columbus city officials envision the project transforming Fourth Street into a more pedestrian-friendly zone capable of hosting citywide festivals and bringing consumers downtown more often to shop or do sightseeing on other days. New sidewalks are 14 feet wide along most of the redone Fourth Street corridor. However, due to the way buildings are positioned relative to the street, some stretches of sidewalk are closer to 9 to 10 feet in width.

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