Road projects planned this year will impact travel this summer in downtown Eau Claire and near the courthouse.
On Tuesday, the City Council is scheduled to vote on a $1.56 million contract with Haas Sons of Thorp to redo two blocks of Lake Street and two blocks of West Grand Avenue.
“This has the potential to be one of the biggest improvements in our street projects this year,” city engineer David Solberg said of the Lake Street project.
Lake Street, between the east end of the bridge over the Chippewa River over to South Farwell Street, will be rebuilt as will West Grand Avenue, between Oxford and First avenues.
In addition to replacing the concrete roadways, the contract includes some utility work, new streetlights and decorative crosswalks and boulevards. Bike lanes also will be added to Lake Street.
The downtown road work is currently forecast to last from June through August, Solberg said, and how quickly it is done will depend on the weather.
During construction, motorists won’t be able to use the Lake Street bridge — a primary crossing over the Chippewa River between downtown and the Randall Park neighborhood. A detour will guide drivers to the Water Street bridge, and they could also opt for the Madison Street bridge as another way to cross the river.
South Farwell Street is expected to see more use as drivers detour around the closed Lake Street intersections with Graham Avenue and South Barstow Street. However, there will be a time when utility work and paving will close the South Farwell Street intersection with Lake Street. But the city will have the Lake Street intersection with South Barstow reopened at that time to provide an alternate route through downtown, Solberg said.
Last year there was a temporary closure of the Lake Street bridge for a few weeks due to utility work on the adjacent Graham Avenue.
The city did hope to squeeze in the Lake Street and West Grand Avenue projects during the latter part of the 2018 construction season to reduce downtown road work this year, but found costs were too high when bids came back.
“The low bid for that was $1.94 million for the work,” Solberg said.
By holding off on the project and rebidding for 2019, he noted the city will save about $400,000, bringing the four blocks of road work on budget.
Replacing downtown streets do cost more than quieter neighborhood ones because the city opts for pavement concrete instead of asphalt for both better durability and aesthetics.
Downtown street projects also include more decorative streetlights and either brick pavers or stamped and colored concrete next to sidewalks and along crosswalks. Assessments on businesses and other property owners along those streets pay for increased costs created by the more decorative touches.
During a Tuesday evening work session, the City Council will get its first look at the complete slate of road projects planned in 2019 in Eau Claire.
This year’s largest road project will be reconstructing nearly a mile-long stretch of State Street from Garfield Avenue to city limits just south of Hamilton Avenue. In addition to that project, the downtown road work, the slate of projects will include smaller projects impacting neighborhoods and other parts of the city.
The City Council holds hearings on upcoming road projects during its February and March meetings.
In other business:
• Plans for more amenities at McDonough Park — fitness and playground equipment, paved paths and parking, half-court basketball and a second bathroom — will be subject to a Monday night public discussion before the council votes on them Tuesday.
Costs for the equipment will be paid by a group of local pickleball enthusiasts and a grant form Mayo Clinic Health System while the city will handle installation.
• Local entertainment magazine Volume One wants to hold three Saturday morning concerts this summer at the amphitheater in Phoenix Park, coinciding with the nearby farmer’s market. Those concerts would be June 8, July 13 and Aug. 10, according to the event organizer’s application to use part of the city park for a special event.
Volume One also is applying to again hold its Sounds Like Summer concert series on Thursday evenings during June, July and August in Phoenix Park.
• Changes to the city’s beekeeping ordinance involving neighbor objections and allowing hives in public parks will be discussed during Monday night’s meeting. A vote on the changes is slated for later this month.
• Establishing fee amounts for residents who want to keep backyard chickens will be up for a vote during Tuesday’s meeting.
The council meets at 7 p.m. Monday and 4 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom at the Eau Claire County Courthouse, 721 Oxford Ave.