Carbondale hopes to spiff up downtown starting March 15 |

Carbondale hopes to spiff up downtown starting March 15

Carbondale hopes to ink its downtown improvement contract with Gould Construction next Tuesday and start construction immediately, said public works director Larry Ballenger.

“They want to start by March 15 and be done in 60 days,” Ballenger said of the contractor.

This is the second time around for Gould Construction with the town’s bidding process. Last November, Gould was the only bidder, and came in at nearly twice the budgeted $476,000.

Ballenger said Gould’s most recent low bid of $652,000 was pared down to $544,000. To come in that low, a few features were eliminated, including bulb-outs on Main Street at Third and Weant.

Also, rather than 70 large trees planted every 20 feet, there will be fewer trees spaced 50 feet apart.

“It would have been beautiful to have a tree every 20 feet, but that may have been too aggressive,” Ballenger said.

Bulb-outs, which extend into Main Street to slow traffic and help pedestrian flow, are still planned for Fourth and Main.

Also still in are 34 lantern-style light poles to replace many of the town’s Interstate-70-style lights. A demonstration pole has stood in front of the Dinkel Building at Fourth and Main for more than a year.

Even at a pared down $544,000, the town is short about $90,000 in the downtown improvement fund in paying for the project. Ballenger said the shortfall will be made up from the general fund’s capital improvement fund and repaid later.

Downtown Carbondale business owners can look forward to the area becoming a construction zone from March 15 through May 15. Ballenger said that for three to five days, entire sections of Main Street will be shut down “lock, stock and barrel” and traffic will be detoured.

Carbondale’s downtown improvements are being funded by a 10-year, 1.5-mill property tax that voters approved in 1999, plus from a $200,000 state grant. The town has said it hopes to extend improvements in years to come.

Carbondale is also considering or researching three other capital improvement projects. Using recreation sales tax funds, the town hopes to create a recreational facility or a park at the Delaney property northeast of Town Hall. An outside firm is currently working on a master plan for the parcel.

The town also hopes to improve the Highway 82/Highway 133 intersection this year to help alleviate afternoon rush hour backups. Last year’s bids came in over budget.

A $6 million recreation center has been designed for the former North Face property south of the fire house, but must win funding on next November’s ballot before construction can begin.

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