Open for businessThe barricades came down and orange barrels were pushed aside. For the first time in six months, traffic flowed again Tuesday afternoon on Tower Avenue north of Belknap Street.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
The barricades came down and orange barrels were pushed aside.
For the first time in six months, traffic flowed again Tuesday afternoon on Tower Avenue north of Belknap Street.
While the project is substantially complete, crews will continue to work on other aspects of the project outside the driving lanes. Officials are asking pedestrians to use care until tree grates are installed, and light poles are added after delivery Nov. 1.
The $14 million project includes a new storm sewer system, pavement, sidewalk, lighting, raised medians and an overall new road configuration. Old bus shelters, reinstalled for the winter, will be replaced next spring when trees and landscaping are planted.
“We’re very happy with the results,” said Kaye Tenerelli, director of the Business Improvement District.
The last major reconstruction of the downtown avenue was in 1935. Deteriorating concrete, some nearly 100 years old, and aging infrastructure necessitated the project, for which planning started in 2006.
“This shows what a little bit of time and planning and investment can mean for our community,” said Dave Minor, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber. He said many have wondered what the project would look like, and if the money was worth it.
“I think if they come down here and take a little walk … I think this is well worth the time and investment,” Minor said.
“We are extremely pleased with the finished product, and I believe motorists will enjoy driving on the new highway that serves as a gateway to the city of Superior,” said Don Gutkowski, Northwest Region director for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Now that the investment has been made, Mayor Bruce Hagen said the city can get back to work to bring business back downtown.
“North Tower’s long-needed upgrades have been completed on time and on budget, and the result is a beautiful new streetscape that will become the centerpiece of our downtown’s continuing revitalization,” Hagen said. “I invite everyone to take a look for themselves at the attractive new lighting and paving, new parking and the many pedestrian-friendly enhancements throughout.”
Construction began in mid-April on the project funded by federal, state and local government.
“The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s staff in Superior did an outstanding job coordinating and implementing this construction, while also working closely with the Business Improvement District, the Chamber, Development Association and others to seek public input and keep everyone informed,” Hagen said. “We also appreciate the great work of the Superior Public Works Department and Chippewa Concrete Services, which worked through all kinds of weather to ensure this project was completed as quickly as possible.
However, Hagen said the biggest thank you goes to Superior’s citizens and downtown business owners for their patience and flexibility these past six months.
“No business wants their front door blocked off for six months, but the business owners did a great job of communicating with their customers and creating new reasons for people to visit them,” Tenerelli said. Now that North Tower is open, downtown businesses have a better environment than ever for serving customers, she said.
“For those of you that maybe didn’t want to get caught in construction: Come back down to Tower Avenue, see what it’s all about, see all the businesses that are here, and see what the investment that the state and the city put into this wonderful project,” Minor said.
The completion of the Tower Avenue project is also bringing change to Hammond Avenue.
Traffic signals planned for removal on Broadway Street at Hammond Avenue were turned off Tuesday. The new signals at Winter Street on Hammond and Tower avenues now work with railroad crossing circuitry, said Public Works Director Jeff Goetzman.
The signals were installed to accommodate traffic on the Winter Street truck route and work in conjunction with rail traffic to ensure tracks are clear when a train reaches the crossings with Tower and Hammond avenues.