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'Brutal heat' stalled street work

Workers reworking the Streetscape project last Wednesday, on S. Broadway Street. photo by G.Ouzounian (click for larger version)
August 10, 2011 - By Joe St. Henry

Review Editor

Downtown businesses welcomed the rumble of cement trucks on Broadway Street last week.

Hammered by falling sales during the Streetscape construction, people were encouraged by the sight of construction crews replacing sidewalks and curbs that had to be repoured.

"Cement trucks equal progress and that will make the village happy," said Shelley Peek, co-owner of the Elements gift boutique. "There's a light at the end of the tunnel."

Other downtown workers tempered their excitement. "We're waiting to see how this turns out, since they already did this once," said Maria Sviridova of Lennon Photo. "I won't believe it 'til I see it."

According to Suzanne Perreault, executive director of the Lake Orion Downtown Development Authority (DDA), July's brutal heat delayed the repairs. Construction crews were concerned with the cement curing properly. This led to scheduling issues with the contractor in charge of the work.

"I understand a lot of business owners were discouraged with the construction just sitting there for two weeks," Perreault said. "It was out of our control. But, the crews are back to work and I'm optimistic. I think the Dragon on the Lake Festival (Aug. 27-28) will be a really great weekend downtown."

Perreault expects all of the work to the downtown and village streets will be completed by August 26, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 1.

"Once we get over the hurdle of the final construction activities, I think there will be a lot of positive things downtown and the people will come back," she said, noting that when the initial construction was completed earlier this summer and streets reopened businesses did see an uptick in customers.

The sidewalks, as originally poured, met Michigan Department of Transportation requirements for non-walking zones, where trees and light posts are typically placed, Perreault said. Several business owners, however, voiced concerns with the steepness of the sidewalk in places as it approached the curb. The engineering firm in charge offered to redo the sidewalks and curbs, the cost of which it absorbed.

Based on the current construction schedule, the DDA executive director said Broadway Street should reopen this week. Asphalt patching work and all brick work should be completed, too. Patching work on Flint Street is half completed and also should be finished soon. A top coat of asphalt on the downtown streets is expected to be laid over the next 2-3 weeks.

In addition, Perreault said Children's Park should be ready for the Aug. 17 pep rally for Lake Orion Community Schools. Work includes installation of fencing, new sod and mulch, plus other landscaping.

"I've learned from this experience to not take anything for granted, but it's looking really good that this project will be completed in the next few weeks," she said, with a touch of optimism.

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