The new sidewalk will run from Bartleby’s Books to Bauman’s Paints. The section that runs from the front of Bartleby’s and the chamber of commerce building to Hayseed Gifts will be flat – level with the road – so that those businesses will be able to continue using parking spaces between the buildings. “The coloring in the concrete will be different, so people will know it’s a sidewalk,” said interim town manager and economic development consultant Gretchen Havreluk.
At Hayseed Gifts, pedestrians will walk up a ramp where the sidewalk will continue, elevated above West Main Street in front of The Fashion Plate and Rock River Restorations, until another ramp brings them back down to street level just before Folly restaurant.
This week, construction crews began removing a stone retaining wall and backfill in front of The Fashion Plate and Rock River Restorations. According to Havreluk, the retaining wall will be rebuilt in its original location. “We needed to start with a solid base for the walkway,” she explained.
The West Main Street sidewalk extension is one of 18 sidewalk improvement projects identified in a scoping report prepared by Dubois & King, a Springfield planning and engineering firm. In 2015, Wilmington received a $300,000 federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Grant to extend the sidewalk on the north side of West Main Street by 520 feet. At the time the grant was received, construction work was projected to begin in 2017, following environmental review of the final design.
Havreluk says the project is not only good for pedestrian safety, it’s good for economic development. The proliferation of businesses along West Main Street over the last several years has drawn a lot of pedestrian traffic along West Main Street. Some pedestrians walk the “danger zone” where no sidewalk exists along the westbound lane. But even the pedestrians that walk the existing sidewalk along the eastbound lane must cross busy Route 9 where no crosswalk exists to access businesses from Folly to the Wilmington Inn and Tavern.
The new section of sidewalk will provide a safe pedestrian path as far as the driveway of the Wilmington Inn and Tavern, as well as a crosswalk in front of the Reardon’s Crossing pedestrian bridge.
The design also includes the installation of lighting, which will include three sidewalk lights that match the lights on the West Main Street bridge, next to Dot’s Restaurant.
Havreluk says she has assured concerned residents that the lights will have the lowest available lumens.
The project’s local matching funds of about $38,000 are being expended from the 1% local option tax fund, which is earmarked for economic and community development. Havreluk says the sidewalk project meets both targets. Not only does it expand infrastructure, Havreluk says extending safe access to businesses along West Main Street will deliver more customers to them. “There’s a real potential for economic growth if more visitors and community residents can walk to this area safely.”
Havreluk said traffic along West Main Street may be interrupted intermittently until sometime in June, when the project is completed. Major work is expected to progress rapidly, she said. “Next week the retaining wall is going in, the curbstones are scheduled to go in at the western end of the project, and the concrete walkway for the western section will be poured.”