After years of discussion and design, the downtown corridor project is now underway.
A groundbreaking ceremony Monday at Carson and Third streets marked the launch of the Carson Street Urban Design Project while Q&D Construction Inc., the contractor on the $8.1 million, seven-month project, began cutting pavement at Carson and William streets.
“We’re going to turn some dirt and kind of turn a new page on Carson Street,” Mayor Bob Crowell said during the groundbreaking celebration, which was held at what will become Bob McFadden Plaza as part of the plan. “Let’s all do our part, now that it’s in the construction phase, to make sure what we’re doing here succeeds.”
Crowell said the project was an example of a public-private partnership, pointing out that the Carson City Chamber of Commerce, for instance, had contributed to it by selling $64,000 in benches and bike racks to adorn downtown sidewalks.
More than 50 people attended the rainy ceremony, including Supervisors Karen Abowd, Lori Bagwell and Brad Bonkowski; Nick Marano, Carson City manager; and other representatives from the city, Q&D and the business community.
“Thank you in advance to all the business owners and residents who are going to show patience in the next few months,” said Jeff Bean, Q&D. “We’ll do our best to stay and get out of your way.”
The first few weeks of work include removing and replacing the water main under Carson Street, which will require closing off single lanes both north and south bound and periodically blocking off side streets, starting with Ann and Sophia streets.
The project, when completed, will narrow Carson Street to single lanes in each direction with a middle turn lane from William Street to Fifth Street, add parking spots and widen sidewalks, as well as create the new plaza at Third Street, all with the goal of attracting more visitors downtown.
“With the (Interstate) 580 extension in the next two years, we need to have every reason for people to take an exit into Carson City,” said Joel Dunn, executive director, Carson City Visitors Bureau, at the ceremony.
That includes special events such as the Epic Rides, a mountain bike race, and the Rockabilly Riot car show, both events coming to Carson City for the first time in June. Each event should attract 3,000 or more visitors downtown, said Dunn.
The construction project is not without controversy. Supervisors Bagwell and Jim Shirk, for example, voted against it and some businesses along the route have voiced concerns that access to their buildings could be limited during construction.
The city has reached out to area businesses, holding meetings to keep them informed, such as last Thursday’s meeting held by city planners and Q&D and attended by about 40 businesses.
In addition, the city launched a web site — carsonproud.com — where anyone can find out about road closures and other up to date information on construction.
“Doing nothing was not an option,” said Andie Wilson, principal, NAI Alliance, at the groundbreaking. “Something had to be done so downtown doesn’t die.”
Wilson is business and life partner of Bonkowski.
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