An informational open house was held at City Hall Tuesday afternoon for the proposed First Street West Reconstruction Project. The open house gave the public an opportunity to learn more about the project.

City Engineer Mike Amborn was on hand to explain the details of the project. He said: “There will be a full reconstruction of the road with new sewer, and there are sections where water doesn’t go all the way. So we’ll be putting new water in as well. Essentially, everything between Main Street and Parkway Drive will be redone.”

The project will include complete replacement of curb, gutter, storm sewer, and sanitary sewer. Water mains will also be replaced. The plan also calls for two-way traffic once the project is completed.

As it is, the street itself will need to be widened only slightly. Amborn said: “It will appear to be widened, but we’re not necessarily widening it too much, maybe a couple of inches to a foot here and there. There are a lot of bump outs that come in on the one side that make it feel like it is narrower than what it is; those are coming out.”

The west side curb alignment will stay the same; the public won’t notice much of a difference there. “The east side of the street is going to get straightened out,” said Amborn. “All these bump outs will be gone. Minnwest Bank will be taking down their awning on the west side of the street, and Old National will remove their awning. Neither of the banks use them anymore.”

Construction of the project is slated to begin next year. “It will be about a four month project. Construction could start about the middle or end of May and last until October, depending on the weather,” said Amborn.

During construction, the parking lots behind Main Street will still be accessible. “All downtown employees and patrons will be able to utilize the parking lots while the project is ongoing,” Amborn said. “Basically, the main route of Parkway Drive and Main Street will remain functional.”

There will be a couple of intersections that will be designated as crossing spots for folks to walk across. “We want to make sure people have safe access to Main Street while construction is taking place,” said Amborn.

Bids for the project have not been let. Amborn said: “This is different than what we’ve done in the past. We’ll still have the preliminary hearings that will officially be at council meetings. We wanted to do this open house forum to get the public’s input. We’re still in the design phase of the project, and we’d like to incorporate the public’s feedback into the design process.”

The preliminary cost estimate for the project stands at $1.7 million. “That includes all the utility work,” said Amborn. “The city did receive a grant through a MnDOT program called the Local Road and Bridge Improvement Program, so the city is eligible to be reimbursed $1 million for this project.”

The grant itself was what sparked the city into taking on this project. “It was on our plan list, but with some of the other projects the city has going on, this project wasn’t as viable. The grant really kicked this project into gear.” said Amborn.