Friday, February 23, 2007

Fourth Street work set to start in April

Night-and-day construction anticipated

Express Staff Writer

With the design for Ketchum's Fourth Street "heritage corridor" all but complete, the city is now looking to get digging.

The two-block stretch set for remodeling could provide a more pedestrian-friendly environment, encouraging people to shop and linger downtown.

But while the work is being done, nearby businesses could feel the opposite effect.

The Ketchum City Council Tuesday heard pros and cons of doing construction during the day or at night. The end result will probably be a little of both.

The two-block project, the first of several phases, is expected to take two months. Work is scheduled to begin in mid-April.

City Engineer Steven Yearsley of Forsgren Associates said the goals are to minimize impacts to businesses and residents and to ensure pedestrian safety.

Working during the day, he said, would limit nighttime noise, which could prove a bother to downtown residents and visitors staying in condos and hotels. The construction is easier to coordinate during the day, when go-to people are available for questions that may arise. Daytime construction would likely begin at 7:30 a.m. and last until 5 p.m.

Nighttime work would start around 6 p.m. and go for 12 hours. The upside of that is more working hours than the day shift, meaning the project could be done more quickly.

There would also be fewer pedestrian conflicts at night, Yearsley said.

The nighttime noise and lighting, though, could pose problems.

"That will be a huge source of public complaints," Yearsley said.

Higher construction costs at night could be offset by the quicker schedule and fewer pedestrian-construction conflict mitigation measures.

Some of the work will have to be done during the day, especially the later aspects of construction, in May.

"You never get a good asphalt when you pave at night," Yearsley said.

While the work is scheduled to be done by June 29, in time for the busy Fourth of July weekend, some city officials and retailers voiced concern that the deadline was cutting it too close.

"These projects take longer than you think," said Councilman Ron Parsons. "I think we should seize every opportunity to work every hour of every day."

"I can just see us all out there laying pavers on June 29," joked Mayor Randy Hall.

A night-and-day schedule could not only speed the process; it would spread the pain between residents trying to sleep and businesses trying to survive.

"No one's going to be happy for these two months," said Councilman Steven Shafran.

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