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Published: Thursday, 2/21/2013

$6.5M rebuild of Secor Road could start in mid-March

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Tim Sloan, owner of McDonald's restaurant on Secor Road, says his business will be impacted but the construction is a necessity. Tim Sloan, owner of McDonald's restaurant on Secor Road, says his business will be impacted but the construction is a necessity.
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Tim Sloan realizes the upcoming Secor Road reconstruction between Central Avenue and Monroe Street is going to reduce business at the McDonald's restaurant he owns just north of Central, but he's still eager to see it start.

"This is going to be the best thing for Secor Road. It needs it," Mr. Sloan said after a meeting Tuesday evening during which city officials explained the $6.5 million project, which could begin as early as March 11. "We'll lose business, no doubt about it. But we'll try to mitigate the loss."

Mr. Sloan was one of about a dozen people who attended the Division of Engineering Services' session at a nearby Knights of Columbus Hall to outline the Secor work, which will start with replacement of an 8-inch water main under the street with a 12-inch pipe.

Then the street will be rebuilt in sections, starting with the stretch between Central and I-475, followed by the intersections at Central and at I-475, and concluding between the freeway and Monroe, said Tim Grosjean, the city's project engineer.

An important element for Mr. Sloan is that the project be finished in time for the busy Christmas shopping season next fall, and Mr. Grosjean said the city shares that urgency. Project specifications include a $10,000 penalty for every day after Nov. 1 that work continues, as well as a $10,000 per day early-completion bonus.

"We're very serious about getting this done," Mr. Grosjean said.

But the end of the year isn't the busy season for everyone, and John Smith, manager of the Home Depot on Secor, asked city officials if he could get temporary permission to schedule truck deliveries at night, so trucks don't contribute to -- or get stuck in -- construction-related congestion.

"I get four to five semis a day. Springtime is my Christmas time," he said, adding later, "It's going to be kind of a struggle, and it's going into our busy season."

Three lanes of traffic will be maintained: one for through traffic in each direction, plus a center lane for left turns. Traffic backups are expected, and Steve Hamilton, the city's newly hired community liaison for street construction projects, said a key part of managing congestion will be that motorists not block driveways when they stop for traffic ahead, so that other drivers waiting to turn left into driveways aren't blocked and jam up the center lane.

"We can all make this work, or we can screw it up so bad it's gridlocked," Mr. Hamilton said.

City officials plan to encourage people who normally just pass through on that part of Secor to use other, parallel streets like Douglas Road or Talmadge Road, the liaison said, but "we don't want to prevent, or deter, people from coming in to do business."

Carol Buckenmeyer, an Elmhurst Drive resident, is among those already planning to stay away. "I just won't go on Secor Road," she said. "If I have to access Westgate, I'll use other streets."

Ms. Buckenmeyer asked officials if, as part of the project, they would consider extending the right-turn lane from northbound Secor to the eastbound I-475 entrance. Mr. Grosjean said that isn't in the plans, and land acquisition to do that would take at least 12 months.

Other than the completion deadline, city officials had no construction schedule to present; that, they said, will be developed over the next few weeks once a contractor is chosen from among bids opened Tuesday.

Besides affecting traffic on Secor, the water main and reconstruction work will require lane closings at times on Central and brief ramp closings at the I-475 interchange. Ramp closings, Mr. Grosjean said, should occur only during off-peak hours, if not entirely at night.

In recent months, Columbia Gas has been installing new gas mains along Secor between Central and Monroe, as well as under Monroe between Secor and Sylvania Avenue, in anticipation of the Secor reconstruction.

Jason Copsey, a Columbia spokesman, said Tuesday all gas company work along Secor was finished Friday, and work along Monroe should be done "within two weeks."

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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