Streetscape project moving forward

By Staff
Nathan Strickland
Rainy weather has had some impact to slow production in the downtown Russellville streetscape project.
Russellville downtown business owners have expressed concerns regarding the timing of the project, claiming it has made getting in and out of their place of business more challenging.
The 80 percent, federally funded renovation to help the downtown's image has begun to catch residents' attention and has brought up some interesting questions as to what exactly is going on.
Project inspector Steve Dean said weather has caused them some trouble along the way.
"If it is too cold, concrete can't be poured because it will freeze and when it rains concrete can't be done because it messes up the sculpting," he said. "The sidewalks have to be formed out to meet state specifications so sometimes we have to wait. The project is set up for 80 working days so we aren't behind we just get stalled here and there."
There are three total phases to the plans made for renovations downtown. Phase one included the handicap-accessible corners and two traffic light poles. Dean said all they like on phase one is setting up the poles. Phase two has begun already, which includes the sidewalks, underground electrical wiring and "island" shrubbery.
"There will be some places where we will pull up concrete in phase two and some places we won't," Dean said. "Some driveways will be taken up and repaved and some won't, plans have been set on what to do and what not to do and that is basically the rules we are following."
Dean said phase three hasn't been set up yet, but believes the construction of a signal light on West Cotaco Street will be include on that phase of the project.
Some downtown businesses understand what they are trying to accomplish, but feel that the timeline may be off a little.
"I spoke with one of the guys overseeing the project and he was real nice about the whole thing and said hopefully they will have our sidewalk fixed in two weeks tops," said Jayne Richardson with Susie Q florist located downtown beside Valley Food Services.
"They provided us ramps to get in and out of the front, but for now we are doing all of our business out of the back of the store."
Richardson said she is a little on edge because the peak season for florists is coming up and hopes the sidewalk is completed soon.
"I just feel like they have just started this at a bad time for us," she said. "Our peak season usually runs from March thru mid July and without parking spaces in front it could really take a toll on our business. But the guy was extremely nice and said he was pretty confident they can get it done in two weeks, if he doesn't then my opinion will definitely change about this whole project because it will start affecting the business."
For now, Richardson said they will continue to work through the back of the store until the sidewalk is poured and fixed.

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