The first part of Franklin’s Main Street reconstruction project hit some rough patches. Several of them were due to not keeping property owners and business people fully informed.
But by meeting and talking with residents and business owners before construction starts, Franklin officials hope to make sure they don’t run into similar problems when crews start tearing up another section of North Main Street this spring.
The project will significantly improve one of the key routes into downtown Franklin. It shows the city’s clear commitment to maintaining and improving its infrastructure.
Strong, attractive, well-kept neighborhoods are vital to Franklin’s long-term success. They often are what attract people and businesses to the community, so maintaining or improving them is vital.
The first part of the project, from Jefferson Street to Graham Street, has transformed the area. But a failure to keep residents and business owners fully informed of plans and progress led to problems. It is good to see the city has learned from experience and is proceeding in a more open, inclusive manner.
For example, after an Aug. 15 meeting, people submitted requests for tweaks to the project, such as adding parking spaces or getting access to their property during construction. Project designers from CrossRoad Engineers were able to make all of the requested changes this fall by adding parking spots and plotting access routes to businesses.
That’s 15 potential complaints that have been addressed five months before the first piece of asphalt is ripped up, vice president Trent Newport said.
Mayor Joe McGuinness said communicating with the people who live, work and patronize businesses in the project area from Graham Street to U.S. 31 already has allowed the city to sidestep issues from the first phase, including cutting down trees without notifying owners, shutting down large portions of roadway and changing street sign and streetlight locations before they’re installed.
Newport has met with more than 20 people along the second phase of the project and has been thanked by some of those people for efforts to keep everyone in the know about the construction plans. CrossRoad Engineers didn’t design the first phase, he said, so the company has worked to not repeat the missteps the city ran into.
The final plans have been submitted to the Indiana Department of Transportation for review, and engineers think the project should be ready for construction to start by March.
Although the plans have been submitted, the project can be altered after construction starts if residents have a minor issue that needs to be resolved, such as moving a tree or light pole in a person’s front yard, Newport said. Those could be handled on a case-by-case basis if property owners notify the city before work is completed in front of their home, he said.
Streets are a vital aspect of a community’s infrastructure and must be maintained. Franklin’s vision for all of Main Street north of downtown will send a strong signal about the city’s vision for the future. We look forward to its completion.