The Lovell Main Street reconstruction and water and sewer project moved into Phase II Tuesday with traffic now being detoured north to Third Street from Pennsylvania to Shoshone after work wrapped up on the east end of Main Street with final pouring and curing of concrete street panels by general contractor Reiman Corp. east of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Wyoming Dept. of Transportation resident engineer Ben Steed said the detour is currently longer than anticipated due to sewer system issues at Montana and Shoshone, but he said Reiman hopes to get work completed from Pennsylvania to Oregon this week, which would mean the detour could soon move west to Oregon.
Currently, the so-called “hard closure” runs from Pennsylvania to Montana, with a soft closure from Montana to Shoshone, but when the east end opens up, the hard closure will be reduced.
“We’re trying to restrict them to a two-block work area plus intersections,” Steed said. “Right now they’re working from Pennsylvania to Oregon and Oregon to Nevada, and if they complete the east edge to Oregon, they can have another block (Nevada to Montana). It’s looking like next week. We won’t change the detour because we already extended it.”
The Pennsylvania to Oregon block would become a soft closure, allowing for local traffic, though not through traffic, Steed said.
Lovell Area Chamber of Commerce president Craig Trumbull of the Brandin’ Iron Restaurant told construction officials at Tuesday’s public meeting that he is concerned about how the long closure and accompanying signage is affecting businesses.
Trumbull praised the contractors for keeping sidewalks clean and immediately cleaning the street following the removal of median strips, but he said the “Road closed – Local traffic only” signs are confusing to the public. He said the “local traffic only” signs may cause a visitor to not turn down a side street to reach a business via the side street or an alley. He noted that many businesses have taken steps to develop rear entrances to their stores and offices from the alley.
Noting that businesses were promised signs directing people to the business district, Trumbull asked what WyDOT could do. Steed said he would look into the matter and put up signs with the “road closed” signs that say “Business access” both at the intersection and at the alley entrance on a given street.
DOWL HKM engineer Andrew Mattie also said that he has instructed the subcontractor providing temporary water on Main Street to provide water to every business affected by water shutoff, noting a situation where an employee reportedly said it would be OK to not provide temporary service because the business could use a water cooler for drinking but didn’t take into account the need for restroom water.
“I don’t think there should be any more ‘Do you need water’ questions,” Mattie said. “You need water.” He said any businesses that find themselves without water should immediately call the Town of Lovell (548-6551).
Town of Lovell Clerk/Treasurer Valerie Beal said she was pleased with how rapidly the contractors responded to get water to a business after the business owner called town hall about the lack-of-water issue.
Others at Tuesday’s meeting expressed concern for the safety of project workers, noting that some drivers are still speeding through the work zones. Reiman Corp. Project Supt. Lloyd Wulf said he has spoken to the Lovell Police Dept. about a stronger police presence around the work zones.
The speed limit has been reduced to 20 miles per hour on the detour streets, as well as in the work zone.
By David Peck