By MIKE WILLIAMS
It looks like it could be around the first of 2024 before construction begins on the “streetscape” project in Downtown Pulaski.
The Town of Pulaski’s Scott Aust provided Town Council with an update on the project on Tuesday.
Planning for the streetscape work – which includes sidewalks, gutters, traffic islands, crosswalks, lighting, trees and other plantings and finally street paving and marking – has been ongoing since the beginning of the downtown water line project.
That project was completed in late spring.
At the end of the water line project, Town Manager Darlene Burcham told council work would begin on the streetscape as soon as state and federal officials give Pulaski the go-ahead.
“This is a project that is being funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation,” Burcham said back in the spring. “We actually received two grants [totaling more than $1 million], one for Main Street North [the north side of the street] and one for Main Street South [the other side].”
The design was completed last August, Burcham said at the time. “But we’re still dealing with VDOT in terms of their review,” she said, noting the review is said to be 90 percent complete.
“But because there are federal dollars involved, we have to have both a state review and a federal review,” Burcham added.
Aust said Tuesday VDOT has recently “kicked back” more comments on the town’s plans for the streetscape project – something they have done, he said, about a dozen times so far.
“The comments can be about anything from crosswalks to stop bars to ADA accommodations that are constantly changing and seems to be a moving target with VDOT for some reason,” he said.
“Those are the big three right now – the hindrances,” Aust added.
Aust said some of the comments are due to the age of the town, the width of the streets making the ADA accommodations for a landing zone and a specific pitch for the ramps on the sidewalk – and having enough space to do that is the hard part.
“With taking out streetlights and removing poles, that buys us a little bit of space. But we’ll still have to do some fancy engineering to make all that happen,” he said.
Aust noted the project’s designer, Hurt & Proffitt has been doing “an amazing job doing that.”
However, he added, Hurt & Proffitt will make changes, “we look at them, send them to VDOT and they ask for additional changes. This is about the 10th or 12th time we’ve gone through this with them.”
“We never get all the comments from VDOT at the same time,” Burcham added.
Aust said he expects the project to be put out to bid in the fall, with construction to begin 30 to 60 days later.
“End of fall, December – January time frame again,” Aust said. The same as the water line project, which began in December 2022.
“And we can do that work in the winter,” asked Vice Mayor Brooks Dawson.
Aust said that, working with concrete, “as long as the temperature is not below 35-40 degrees.”
“And there are additives they can put in to help it cure at that temperature as well,” he added.
The streetscape project plan is to complete work on one side of Main Street before moving to the other side of the street.
Aust told council he planned to walk Main Street the next day to try and come up with solutions to issues he had just been made aware of by citizens concerned about walking downtown due to some sidewalks being made of concrete and others with stone.
He said the new sidewalks to be constructed through the streetscape project will all be concrete.
Aust also reviewed with council recommendations on plantings, streetlights and trees for downtown.