Eau Claire considers large downtown road construction project

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The city is considering a large road construction project in downtown Eau Claire that it says will bring a more cohesive feel to the area.

The city council is holding a public hearing Monday night to discuss the reconstruction of Graham Avenue.

The city says the concrete pavement along Graham is deteriorating and the sanitary sewer in the streets dates back to the 1930's so the more than the $2 million project is needed to replace the outdated facilities.

City engineer Dave Solberg said, “With the Confluence Art Theater opening up, and the other redevelopment that's occurring, the street and the infrastructure is the next step that will help facilitate that.”

Decorative pavers and lighting, pedestrian friendly streets and on-street parking opportunities would be included in the project that would span along five blocks of Graham Avenue and would also include two side streets.

“When we redo our longer streets in downtown we try to get the side streets between the two,” explained Solberg. “Barstow Street was done in the past so we're trying to include Main and Gray Streets with the short blocks, about 100 feet for each of those, but we don't leave a short stretch of bad concrete and bad utilities in-between two new streets.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in April and continue until early fall and while the city says it may be a little trickier accessing Graham Avenue it does ask that people be patient and take the extra time to visit businesses.

“Construction is very stressful, it is very frustrating at times,” said Solberg. “We urge people when they're in our around our construction zones to please be patient, slow down and relax and be safe because we want to make sure the construction site is safe for the motorist and the workers that are out there as well.”

The city hopes the potential changes will help bring a more cohesive feel to downtown

“Being in downtown with it redeveloping and all the development going on alongside of it, and the infrastructure itself has aged, we feel it's better to do it now so we don't have to come back here in 10-15 years and tear up something we've just done,” added Solberg.

The city plans to develop a social media campaign visitors can use to navigate the construction and keep up to date on any developments.

The public hearing on the plan takes place at 7pm at City Hall.

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