Tower Avenue slated for heavy construction in 2013Superior's Tower Avenue is scheduled for an entire season of heavy construction in 2013, so area businesses are working out a "Plan B" for their car-driving customers.
By: By Jim Leino, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Superior's Tower Avenue is scheduled for an entire season of heavy construction in 2013, so area businesses are working out a "Plan B" for their car-driving customers.
Wisconsin Department of Transportation Communications Manager Chris Ouellette says Tower Avenue hasn't had a major overhaul since the Great Depression years.
"The last time it was reconstructed was 1935," she said. "The existing concrete pavement dates from 1914 and is just well beyond its useful life; there are many areas of deterioration. Multiple overlays have temporarily preserved the driving-surface, but it's just not holding up."
Oullette says there will be only one lane of traffic open during construction, WisDOT is collaborating with Superior's Business Improvement District, otherwise known as "BID," to finalize a plan to draw customers to the back doors of Tower Avenue businesses affected by the construction.
"We're also with the businesses to make sure that back-door areas will be easily accessed as well," Ouellete said. "I know we've been in conversation with the BID in trying to make sure that some of those business that have back entrances become more of a front entrance, so to speak."
Superior Business Improvement District Director Kaye Tenerelli says the Backdoor Art Project, which brought in professional artists to paint small murals in back-door areas, has already proven helpful in beautifying rear entrances. Some artwork is already in place, but funding has been approved for additional installations, with a call for artists this winter.
Tenerelli says the Backdoor Art Project is just one aspect of many improvements to Tower Avenue. She says adding more green space will be a high priority.
"There will be trees. We're in the process of designing planters for the corners of the project; there will be low-level plantings in those," she said. "There will be trees in the median, trees along each side of the street, all new period lighting, benches for people to sit on, new trash receptacles, new signs. It's a complete remodeling."
Tenerelli says the improvements won't revitalize the Tower Avenue area alone, but they create an environment in which businesses can thrive.
"It does enhance the efforts," she said. "It will be a completely different look for North Tower Avenue. It just will have a different feel to it; it will be much more welcoming than it has been in the past. While that is not the end-all-be-all for economic development, it certainly enhances your chances."
The Tower Avenue project will cost $7 million and take the entire 2013 construction season to finish.