Downtown work to begin April 23

by nathan oster

While some aspects of the timeline have yet to be finalized, Wyoming Department of Transportation officials told downtown Greybull business owners last week that work on the street project is scheduled to begin on Monday, April 23.

“Get in and get out, that’s the intent,” said Keith Compton, a district construction engineer for WYDOT, during an open house at the Greybull Area Chamber of Commerce office.

Compton was one of several WYDOT officials who attended the hearing along with approximately 20 downtown business owners and town officials.

The other WYDOT officials in attendance included District Engineer Shelby Carlson, Public Involvement Specialist Cody Beers, Resident Engineer Ben Steed, and Paul Koenig, who will serve as WYDOT’s point man at the construction site.

S&S Builders of Gillette was awarded the $1.2 million contract to make the improvements, which include the elimination of a single westbound lane of Greybull Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets, bump-outs at the two key downtown intersections and sidewalks and lighting on both Greybull Avenue and Sixth Street.

By contract, S&S has until Aug. 31, 2012, to complete the work, but WYDOT officials who spoke Thursday indicated that the work would likely be done long before that, as long as the weather permits. The contractor must reach substantial completion by the end of July.

Steed told business owners that the contractor will focus first on the two corners (directly in front of the Historic Hotel Greybull and the Bank of Greybull) located on the west side of the stoplight.

The project will proceed from there in an easterly direction, and Steed emphasized that the focus of this project is the sidewalks, and not the pavement. He assured business owners, however, that the contractor would be required to maintain some form of pedestrian access to the front doors of all downtown businesses throughout the project.  The contractor also must maintain two-way traffic on Greybull Avenue and Sixth Street, said Steed.

WYDOT officials said the contractor hopes to be done with the lion’s share of the work on Greybull Avenue by around June 18.  The contractor has agreed to shut down construction activities during the Days of ’49 celebration, which runs from June 7-9. The street will be open and cleaned up for that event, said WYDOT officials.

“The contractor will be getting in, making a little mess and getting out of here as quickly as possible so you guys can get back to life as normal,” said Beers.

During the meeting, it was announced that the contractor and WYDOT officials plan to hold weekly status meetings in the conference room of the chamber office. Those meetings will be held on Thursdays at 10 a.m., starting April 26.

Beers also told business owners that communication is paramount to WYDOT. He said the highway department will be erecting signs and running radio and newspaper advertisements emphasizing that downtown businesses are open during the construction project. There will also be communication about which business’s back doors will be accessible.

“This contractor has done a lot of work in urban areas, and their superintendent, in particular, is very adept at working with the public,” Beers said. “He will be working with you folks on a daily basis to minimize impacts.”

In two related notes, WYDOT officials said the new parking lot at the corner of First Avenue North and Sixth Street isn’t expected to be completed until early to mid June, at the earliest, and that WYDOT does intend this summer to permanently fix the “slide area” in the Big Horn Mountains that closed U.S. Highway 14 for several weeks in 2011.