City gets first phase of Main Street road work started




The first phase of a two-phase project to rebuild several blocks of Main Street between Fulton and Maple streets got under way last week and is expected to be completed before Christmas, according to the city of Garden City's engineering department.

The second phase, north of the railroad tracks on Main Street, will begin in 2013. The total project involves replacing existing asphalt and underlying brick with nine-inches of new concrete pavement. The project costs $498,140 and is being jointly funded by the city and the Kansas Department of Transportation connecting links program. Each entity is paying half. The city budgeted $250,000 over two years, 2011-12, for the project, according to Alex Mestdagh, assistant city engineer.

Mestdagh said that portion of Main Street has been in the city's capital improvement plan for several years. Rebuilding it with concrete will make the road stronger and bring it in line with the rest of the roadway's construction to the north and south, which is concrete north of Fulton Street and south of the project area to the city limits.

"We wanted to fill in that gap that's currently asphalt overlaying the old brick there," he said. "We get a lot of truck traffic coming in from the south, so we just wanted to make it stand up to the traffic better and also decrease maintenance."

Mestdagh said concrete road maintenance usually is less expensive than asphalt.

The current phase is expected to be completed within eight to 10 weeks. The two center lanes south of the railroad tracks to Maple are currently under construction with one lane, the outside lane, open in each direction. When that's done, construction will begin on the outer lanes and the inside lanes will be open to travel.

No on-street parking is allowed on Main Street in the construction area, and no cross traffic is allowed at Santa Fe Street. The general contractor is J-A-G Construction Co. of Dodge City.

The second phase of the project, rebuilding Main Street from the railroad tracks north to Fulton St., will happen some time in 2013, Mestdagh said, but a specific start date will depend on the weather. He said it could even be spring before phase two begins.

"We'll need a forecast of a stretch of good weather before we let them start construction," he said. "We'll need a good stretch of warm weather where they can tear up pavement and have enough warmth to pour new pavement."

Mestdagh said the city held an open house about the project in August and invited businesses to review the plans. He said the city tries to do everything it can to minimize the impact on traffic, parking and providing access for businesses.

"We want to get in and out as quickly as possible, and we also want to make sure we don't impact the downtown area very much during the holidays. We're not going to tear up the northern half during December," he said.

Ron Whitehurst, owner of Whitehurst Antiques on South Main Street, said the impact on his business has been pretty minimal.

"It'll be a little inconvenience, but it won't be bad," he said. "I don't have a lot of traffic. Fact is, I had a lady park right out here anyways today."

Impact on the annual American Legion Veterans Day parade on Nov. 10 should be minimal, according to the event's organizers.

"The show will go on," Henk Rijfkogel, local American Legion finance officer, said. "I mean, come on. Veterans? Why should that hold us up, for crying out loud. We'll continue."

Rijfkogel said the route will remain the same as in past years, and staging for entries will have equipment, vehicles and horses assembling in the Finney County Fairgrounds parking lot. Walking entries will assemble at the Amtrak station parking lot.

The American Legion met previously with the city about the construction and will work with the Garden City Police Department on getting through the construction zone. Rijfkogel said parade entries also will be made aware of the construction.

The parade is schedule to begin at 2 p.m. Nov. 10. Parade entrants will start assembling at 12:30 p.m.

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