Work begins on Water Avenue streetscape

Published 9:01 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2017

After being delayed for the last three years, work on a streetscape project on the west side of Water Avenue started this week.

Monday, crews started blocking off the first section they are working on and bringing in heavy machinery. Tuesday, crews started tearing up the side walk along the building that houses Gallery 905.

“We’re just glad to get it underway and glad that the DOT was able to help out with funding,” said Josh Pierce, project manager from Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood. “We were able to utilize the grant money that they provided and we were able to find a way to get a project that was budgeted for and can be built.”

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The project will stretch two blocks from Broad Street down to Church Street on the north half of the west side of Water Avenue.

“We’re basically making improvements on the north half of the two blocks in terms of handicap accessibility, sidewalks, landscaping areas and that’s pretty much it,” Pierce said.

The project is being funded through a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation for around $400,000.

Right now, part of the sidewalk on the west side looks like a pile of rubble, but Pierce said when it is completed it will match the work that was done on the other side of Water Avenue for the most part.

“We’re not relocating utilities underground though. That is the only difference. All utilities above grade are going to stay above grade … so there is still going to be some poles and some wires everywhere,” Pierce said in a Times-Journal article from October 2016.

Work on the project was originally scheduled to start in 2014, but city leaders decided to postpone it due to fear of it not being completed before the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in March 2015 when President Barack Obama visited Selma, along with more than 100,000 visitors.

It was delayed for a second time in 2015 after the project had to be rebid. The new bids came in much higher than the budgeted amount, so it had to be rebid again. The project was eventually rebid to Frasier-Ousley Construction, a local company.

The east side of Water Avenue was redone in 2010. Pierce said he expects the project to be completed sometime around mid-summer.

Pierce said the project is part of the city’s goal to redevelop the downtown area.

“There will be more phases to come. I think that is a good thing to point out,” he said. “The city will embark upon trying to get some additional grant monies from the same program to continue to do more streetscape work in the downtown area over the years.”