Sidewalks have been removed on a section of Main Avenue near the Capitol Theater in Erwin.
ERWIN — Construction on the first phase of Erwin’s downtown revitalization project has begun, as sidewalks along Main Avenue have been demolished to make way for infrastructure improvements.
Crews with Summers Taylor Inc., the construction company award the project contract late last month, were out Wednesday demolishing sidewalks along Main Avenue from Gay Street to Tucker Street, and that work continued Thursday.
On Friday, sidewalk demolition work moved past Tucker Street heading toward Erwin Town Hall.
“They’re moving so quickly,” said Erwin Public Works Director Mark Lafever. “We didn’t expect them to be moving along as fast as they are, which is a good thing.”
Lafever said intersections will remain open as work moves along. Today, crews are set to mill the the road along Main Avenue from Gay Street to an area near the Second Street intersection.
“So Saturday will be pretty busy down here with big machinery and the equipment it takes to mill the asphalt up,” Lafever said.
After milling is complete, crews will begin installing conduit and waterlines in the road starting at Gay Street, Lafever said.
“Once they start that process, they’re going to keep moving down because they can’t really stop once they start that, but they’re going to continue to keep the intersections open for traffic,” he said.
Lafever said he and other town officials also wish to stress that downtown businesses are open and will remain open during construction. He said there will be a pedestrian walkway in the construction site for access and safety.
Once the utilities are in the ground, crews will begin rebuilding the sidewalks and will place a binder coat on the street.
“The actual paving will be the last thing they do,” Lafever said.
Lafever said he expects work on the first phase to be completed by mid-September. Town officials have previously stated they want to have work completed by the start of the Unicoi County Apple Festival in early October.
The downtown revitalization project is part of the town of Erwin’s five-year capital improvement plan, which was initiated in 2010. In July 2011, the town’s board of mayor and aldermen approved an agreement with planning firm Kimley-Horn and Associates to develop a master plan for the revitalization project, and this master plan was approved by the board in February 2012. Work of the first phase of the project is estimated to cost around $1.5 million.
Aside from infrastructure improvements, the project will also include aesthetic upgrades, including landscaping and decorative lighting. Lafever said the two largest components of the project is are bringing the downtown area into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and upgrading the town’s stormwater system. The stormwater system’s capacity will be upgraded, and Lafever said these improvements will be made as work moves forward.
The town has established a website to provide citizens with construction and traffic updates. That website is www.erwindowntown.org.