First it was the transformation of the square in downtown Jacksonville in 2011, then the opening of traffic to South Main in 2012. Today, construction begins on North Main, the final portion of the downtown turnaround.
Work began this morning on the far north end of the downtown portion of North Main near the railroad tracks, according to Jim Burke of Hutchison Engineering.
Burke says the first item on the agenda is installing a water main, which will require the closure of North Main from just north of the tracks to just south of Lafayette. He says the road will be torn out.
“You’ll still have access from Lafayette onto Sandy up to the post office and into Charlie’s Coffee and Cones. You’ll still have access coming down Mauvaisterre to move to the east. You just won’t be able to move west on Mauvaisterre. So, that’s Stage One,” he says.
“Basically, we’re going to be closing that infield area north of Lafayette to the railroad tracks, as well as North Main and that section. They will construct North Main from the railroad tracks up to near Charlie’s Coffee and Cones, and at the intersection of West Lafayette,” Burke continues.
Stage Two involves construction at the intersections on either side of North Main with Mauvaisterre and Sandy at the north end, which Burke says will allow traffic on the newly-constructed North Main up to Douglas. The Mauvaisterre and Sandy intersections will be closed at that time.
Burke says the first and second stages should be complete by the middle part of summer. As the third and final stage takes place, he explains that construction will move north to south towards downtown, with reconstruction of West Douglas from Mauvaisterre to West.
“We’re kind of confining the work of the contractor to certain areas to allow access to the businesses, Lincoln Land, Charlie’s Coffee and Cones, the old Andrews Lumber building has some truck traffic that comes in and out of there for delivery, the bank of course there at the corner of Douglas and North Main have a branch there that we want to maintain access to,” says Burke.
“So, we’re trying to make sure everybody could still move in and around from the north part of town into the downtown area with the least amount of disruption.”
North Main won’t open to the square until August.
“North Main’s going to be kind of the cherry on the sundae, so to speak. It is a very nice improvement for that end, for an area that definitely could use some improvements,” says Burke.
“It’ll connect the north end of town to north and parts west and east to have direct access to the downtown square. It’ll eliminate some of those cumbersome one-ways that we have currently downtown. There will be new streetscapes involved, a new arch also put in place to mirror what we’ve done on South Main. It’ll be complete new decorative lighting; you’ll see decorative pavers, decorative crosswalks, much like we did on South Main and the square project,” he adds.
Burke adds there will be two park areas on either side of North Main in front of Charlie’s Coffee and Cones and the Alco White building area.
The governor’s office announced earlier this month state funding for the project. K.E. Vas Company in Jacksonville was the lower of two bidders, coming in at a price of $3.3 million.