Work is continuing at a steady pace on the East State Street renovation, but not without some surprises along the way.
Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard says work on the replacement of the water mains down the East State corridor is inching closer to completion. Ezard says the underground work has gone fairly smoothly, even with some unexpected discoveries.
“Right now we are getting ready to remove a big tank that we discovered buried right by the K of C Hall. So we had to go through the proper remediation as far as hiring and going through IDOT and the permitting, and we’ve done that and now we are just kind of waiting on when we are going to remove that.
The city understands that these things happen something like this, we are used to that and we don’t want to put a burden on the K of C Hall and we’ve worked it out with them. It’s just one of those things that happens with projects like this, and it’s kind of slowed things but, we will get that out of there and clean it up and move forward.”
Ezard says he hopes the sidewalks will be able to be poured before winter hits. However repaving of the roadway will have to wait until spring. He says at that time the parking lot bordering North East Street in front of the Hamilton’s Building entrance as well as East Street will also be repaved, similar to work completed earlier this year in the lots around South Main and Sandy streets.
Ezard says if good weather comes this winter, progress will be able to continue with the installation of much of the new lighting for the streetscape, like those already installed around the square and North and South Main.
Ezard says as the East State phase progresses toward completion sometime next year, he and city planners are already looking forward to the final phase of the ongoing downtown renovation project.
“We will tidy up this project on this phase, and then we will aggressively go for phase five funding for the West State corridor, we have to see it through. We chose East State first because we felt there were not as many obstacles as far as the East State construction, but West State will make up for it with everything that is along there.
When Mayor Tendick started this from day one and worked with Jacksonville Main Street, I think everybody’s looking forward to that day when that is done, hopefully only a few years from now, and then we can have another party.”
Ezard says another benefit of the East State project is the luck in timing with the Jacksonville Area Museum set to open next summer in the old Post Office Building on East State next to Centenary Methodist Church.
Ezard says David Blanchette and the Jacksonville Area Museum Board has done an amazing job in getting the museum ready for the public.
“We are excited, I mean there are some neat things that are going to be in there and I think it’s not just neat for folks that are from Jacksonville and lived around here, but it will be a good thing for folks that are coming into our community to learn about it. And they will be very aggressive as far as changing exhibits and acquiring exhibits, not just from Jacksonville, but they will also bring some things in for people to view.”
The Jacksonville Area Museum was host to a well attended turn out during a sneak peek open house this past Saturday. The museum will be featured in an episode of the PBS television show Illinois Stories which was taped on Monday. The Jacksonville Area Museum is set to open in the summer of 2021.
For more information, visit the Jacksonville Area Museum’s Facebook page.