Sunday, May 20, 2018

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Plans for downtown plaza, bridge await panel's go-ahead

Commission to vote on projects near Haymarket Landing site

  • Confluence-Crossing-bridge

    The Confluence Crossing Bridge is designed to have a metal arch and a wooden walking surface. The bridge won’t have to touch the water, making it a more cost-efficient design, city engineer Dave Solberg said.

    Ayres Associates image

  • Haymarket-Plaza-site-plan

    Eau Claire’s Waterways and Parks Commission will vote Wednesday on whether to approve a site plan for a 1-acre plaza between the Confluence Arts Center and Phoenix Park. The commission voted in June to approve a master plan of the project.

    Ayres Associates image

City officials are hoping a yearslong plan to build a plaza and bridge near the site of the downtown Haymarket Landing can begin in May as the city awaits a few more checked boxes.

The city’s Waterways and Parks Commission needs to green-light the projects before they can be bid out and construction can begin in an area that will complete planned development near the Confluence Arts Center. 

The commission approved a master plan for a 1-acre plaza between the Confluence Arts Center and Haymarket Landing and a footbridge from the site to Phoenix Park in June. A revised plan with more details will be taken up Wednesday by the same group.

“We’re working really hard to do everything we can to make sure we can get a bid as soon as possible,” said city engineer Dave Solberg, who will present on the tweaked plans.

The Haymarket Plaza is a public space between the arts center and Haymarket Landing — part of which is used as dorms for UW-Eau Claire students — that will give visitors access to the water. 

Solberg said it’s an elegant mix between a European-type plaza with decorative stone and an extension of Phoenix Park’s natural elements, both characteristics of feedback on the project that the city has received over the past two years. 

Nearby, a 210-foot bridge would enable pedestrians and bikers to move between Phoenix Park and the plaza and bypass North Barstow Street.

The site plan that will be presented to commission members includes small tweaks to the master plan, such as making sure traffic will flow optimally and the features fit around utilities.

“In general, the concept looks similar to what the commission saw as a preliminary draft,” said Pat Ivory, senior planner and staff member of the commission.

Planned for more than five years, the projects garnered feedback from the public, city groups, staff members and others who showed a desire for a water fountain, a fire pit, areas to display art and a physical connection to Phoenix Park. 

“They wanted to have a community living room,” Solberg said.

The bridge will feature a metal arch and a wooden walking surface. Solberg said the bridge is cost-effective, especially since it won’t require that a pier be installed in the water for support.

“Preliminary estimates show it’s one of the few bridges we’d be able to afford with the budget we have,” he said.

Plus, he said the design incorporates part of the city’s history.

“The arch portion pays tribute to some of the old arch bridges,” he said. “The trusses are similar to some of the railroad bridges we have.”

Cost estimates for the full project aren’t available, Solberg said, and the projects will be funded through downtown tax increment financing districts and a grant from the state Department of Natural Resources, which could help pay for a portion of the trail slated to run through the plaza.

According to the city’s budget, $830,300 has been set aside from TIF District No. 8 for the Haymarket Plaza for 2018. For the pedestrian bridge, $1.5 million has been set aside in the budget from TIF District No. 10.

Solberg said the budgets are tied together. That means depending on the bids received, some plans may need to be adjusted.

Pending commission approval, the plans for the plaza will then have to go before the city’s Plan Commission before the city can seek bids to bring before the full City Council. 

Bids for the bridge will go to the council so long as the project is approved by the Waterways and Parks Commission. 

Contact: 715-833-9206, elizabeth.dohms@ecpc.com, @EDohms_LT on Twitter

 

WATERWAYS AND PARKS COMMISSION »Meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the North Conference Room in City Hall, 203 S. Farwell St.


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