Citizens' Criticism Brings Revised Planfor East Main St.

18 News Story

January 05, 1992|By Daniel P. Clemens Jr. | Daniel P. Clemens Jr.,Staff writer

Rarely does a major public project get called back for reconsideration, but Westminster's East Main Street reconstruction was one such case.

In January, the City Council was ready to move ahead with the $2.8 million project, which included widening to 40 feet portions of the street from Longwell Avenue to Quintal Road.

That's when the citizen outcry over the project came to a head.

Many residents argued that the widening would decimate the charm ofthe downtown area, transforming the district from a tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly shopping district to a high-speed traffic thoroughfare. Sentiment for junking the plan grew.

Members of the City Council started to have second thoughts. But they worried that a delay in the project would jeopardize state money for the job. Main Street is astate road, and at least 75 percent of the work was to be paid for by state and federal dollars.

However, SHA officials assured the city that state money for the project would not be at risk if plans were delayed for redesigning. With that reassurance, the council commissioned a 12-member task force to revise the plans.

The task force included city and state administrators, as well as downtown business people and residents. For 10 months, the group worked on a redesign ofthe "concept" plan. The consensus is that the new design is a markedimprovement over the original.

In the revised plan, the road width remains the same in all but a few minor spots. Instead of removing many trees, more will be added. "Bubbles" -- brick-work extensions ofthe sidewalks near intersections that make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross -- are to be incorporated.

Some features remain from the old plan. The project includes sidewalk and road improvements, and the replacing of aging gas, water and sewer lines. New stormwater drainage pipes will be installed.

Last month, the task force plan officially was presented to the council. The plan is called a "concept" because minor revisions still can be made before bids go out for final engineering plans. Work likely won't begin before March 1993.

With a revised plan comes a revised price tag, task force members say. Though no new estimate was given, task force members say the price should be close to the original $2.3 million estimate.

"This is, I think, a happy ending to a story that started out not so friendly," said SHA landscape division chief Charles Adams, a member of the task force.

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