City officials Monday unveiled a detailed schedule of more than two years of planned road and sidewalk closures along Main Street as crews prepare to replace aging infrastructure in the heart of downtown Lynchburg next month.
Officials said the schedule, which will be updated regularly online, will allow business owners and visitors to better navigate the construction zone, but they warned the forecast could change after work begins in earnest.
“[The schedule] will evolve over the course of time as we run into things that were not foreseen,” Jim Talian, the project manager for the city, said at a community meeting at the Holiday Inn on Main Street.
The estimated $17 million renewal project is the second phase of the city’s downtown water line replacement and streetscape project and will involve work on Main Street between 8th and 12th streets as well as on 10th Street between Church and Main streets.
Appalachian Power Company approached the city last June with an opportunity to partner on updates to underground electrical infrastructure, streetscape improvements and replacement of century-old water lines. APCo will conduct additional work on portions of 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th and 13th streets.
Construction is set to begin Sept. 16 and is expected to take 24 to 27 months to complete, wrapping up around Thanksgiving 2021.
The project will progress in stages to allow business owners, customers and residents to always have access to the buildings along Main Street. Talian said either the roadway or one of two sidewalks will be open at all times in every block of the construction zone. The city also will ensure continual access to every parking lot and deck.
“There will be access to every business that needs it,” Talian said.
Construction will begin in the 800 block of Main Street and gradually will move south toward 12th Street.
By early November, construction crews are expected to begin work in the 900 block.
Work also will be done on alternating sidewalks in the 1000 and 1100 block between the start of construction next month and the end of December.
“We’re going to hit all four blocks by the first of the year,” said Clu Pettyjohn, project manager with English Construction, the contractor for the renewal project. “Nobody’s going to be immune to it.”
Roadwork in the 1000 block will begin in early January, and construction in the 1100 block is set to start in mid-March.
Officials hope to complete all work in the 800, 900 and 1000 blocks by early February 2021. Work in the 1100 block will last into summer 2021, and work on 10th Street will end in November of that year.
The utility upgrades will include 2,000 feet of new waterline, 58 individual service lines and meters, 10 new fire hydrants, nine new sanitary manholes, 14 new stormwater structures and new power lines.
Once the utility updates are complete, the city will install asphalt and sidewalks with decorative pavers and crosswalks as well as native trees and plantings to beautify the corridor.
The work is expected to be disruptive to local businesses, according to Pettyjohn.
“I’d love to get up here and lie to you and tell you it’s going to be real neat, clean and orderly but it’s going to be messy at times,” he said.
Officials have developed two detour routes to help motorists navigate downtown. The first will redirect drivers from 12th Street north to Clay Street and then east on 5th Street; the second will redirect drivers traveling north on Main Street to Commerce Street to avoid the construction work.
The work to replace aging water and power lines is expected to temporarily interrupt those services for each customer in the project zone, according to Pettyjohn. He said city officials and APCo will provide at least one week of advance notice before the interruptions.
Several members of City Council attended the Monday meeting, including Mayor Treney Tweedy and Vice Mayor MaryJane Dolan.
Ward IV Councilman Turner Perrow, an engineer, asked those in attendance to key their eye on the goal: a beautifully manicured streetscape.
“I think it was Mike Tyson that said that everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the eye,” Perrow said. “And I heard that we’ve got a good plan. I know our teams have a good plan. But please work with us. Be patient, be understanding and recognize that our team ... is going to work hard to make this right.”
Richard Chumney covers breaking news and public safety for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5547.