Main Street project set to begin
April 1 start date planned in downtown Waupaca
By Angie Landsverk
After years of planning, the reconstruction of four blocks of Waupaca’s Main Street is months away from beginning.
“I anticipate the project to start on April 1. A pre-construction, public informational meeting will be held prior to the start,” said Director of Public Works Justin Berrens.
He plans to present the bids to the common council in February with a recommendation.
The budget for the project is $3.6 million, and that cost is being funded through several sources.
Among them is $1.7 million in Surface Transportation Urban Program (STP) funds.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) manages the program.
As a result, it advertised for and received the bids.
“The DOT received eight bids – a healthy number,” he said.
The department received the bids last November, with the bids ranging from $3.1 to $3.9 for the total project, Berrens said.
Another funding source for the project is about $1 million in General Obligation debt.
City Administrator Aaron Jenson said that was part of the city’s 2020 and 2021 borrow for capital projects.
In addition, $475,000 is being borrowed from the city’s water utility and $450,000 from its sewer utility, Berrens said.
The planning the city’s Finance Department did for the project resulted in those borrows not raising the water and sewer rates, he said.
Jenson said the planning also included getting the project done “without raising tax rates.”
Prior to bringing a recommendation to the council next month, Berrens is breaking down the bids to make sure everything is within budget for each of the four funding sources.
“The Main Street project is largely two stages,” he said.
The first phase is from Fulton to Water streets, with that stage expected to take place from April 1 until around July, Berrens said.
At the start of that phase, those two blocks of Main Street will be closed.
He said this will include closing the entire Fulton Street intersection for 10 days.
“For the Fulton Street intersection, there are about four stages in itself,” Berrens said. “It is the most important intersection downtown.”
When the intersection reopens in the first phase, it will have new utilities underground and temporary asphalt on the surface, he said.
Later in the project, the intersection will close again for 14 days to complete the final concrete work, Berrens said.
That includes the sidewalk, curb, gutter and street.
He said the Fulton Street intersection then reopens with work continuing north of Fulton.
After the first stage is completed, construction on Main Street switches to Fulton to Badger streets with the Fulton Street intersection remaining open, Berrens said.
The second phase of the project is to completed by Oct. 31.
Berrens said replacement of the water and sewer under Main Street are the first parts of the project in both phases, followed by the storm sewer.
“The infrastructure under it (Main Street) is over 100 years old,” he said. “The life expectancy of underground utilities never exceeds 100. We’re playing with borrowed time.”
North Main Street is the first phase of the project because of how the utilities are situated, Berren said.
“The sanitary sewer collects under Session Street, so we have to start there,” he said.
Throughout the project, the city plans to provide information and updates.
Letters were already sent to downtown property owners, asking for their updated contact information.
The city will communicate when the Fulton Street intersection will be closed.
It has also prepared parking and pedestrian maps.
Downtown businesses will remain open throughout the project, Berrens said.
Last year, the alleys between Main and Washington streets were updated.
The city expects to see both vehicle and pedestrian traffic on them during the project.
Jenson said there are some businesses that will be able to use their back entrances off those alleys.
The community arts group is also looking to focus on driving traffic to this area by working on a mini mural project on the alley side of the businesses, he said.
“We’re fortunate to have the downtown and Main Street we have,” Jenson said. “I think a lot of small communities would love to have it.”
He said the city sees the infrastructure upgrade as an improvement on something it already has.
There will be new underground utilities and pavement, and the downtown will be more pedestrian friendly, he said.
When that is coupled with the city’s new downtown incentive program, there is a lot of “potential for our downtown in the next five years,” Jenson said.
The end product is a new street in October, but the end result may be seen in upcoming years, he said.
“It’s going to be a real attractive place to invest in, a real attractive place to visit,” Jenson said.