COVINGTON — The village of Covington, in conjunction with the Access Engineering Solutions project group, recently released an official response to questions and comments given by village residents regarding the proposed reconstruction of High Street.
The village held a public meeting on Nov. 18, 2019, to discuss the proposed project, and approximately 30 citizens were in attendance offering personal insight and requesting specific details about how the reconstruction may be carried out. The village also received written comments after the meeting.
Questions included issues like project phasing, parking during and after construction, and associated street closings, among other things.
Several village residents were concerned about whether or not construction will be completed in phases, so as to limit the inconvenience, and the village and project team affirmed this.
The official response released by the village states construction will be phased so that a few blocks are closed at one time and then open during the next phase.
“Preliminary plans show Phase 1 construction from Dodds Street to Spring Street; Phase 2 from Spring Street to Wright Street; Phase 3 from Wright Street to Broadway Street; with Phase 4 including surface course applied for the entire length of project and signal and light pole installation,” the release states.
A concern for business owners on High Street included the need to provide safe access, especially for elderly customers and for stores and shops that do not have efficient entry through the back of the building.
“Contractors have a variety of construction options available to avoid restricting front door access, including undertaking part-width construction if the entrance is wide enough or pouring the concrete outside business hours,” the release states. “The contractor will be required to maintain ADA-compliant pedestrian access to the High Street entrances of businesses during construction of the sidewalks. The contractor will also be required to coordinate work with the affected businesses to minimize impacts. The ability to provide advance notice may be limited, as some work is weather dependent.”
The availability of parking seemed to be high on the list of concerns for residents.
One villager asked if there will be designated parking areas on village-owned lots for business/homeowners to utilize while parking is restricted on High Street.
The release states the village will allow parking at village-owned lots for public use as necessary, but will not specifically designate spaces.
In conjunction with the parking concern, a comment was submitted regarding the availability for resident use of the village-owned lot where the former Paul’s Pizza was located. The release stated this lot will be used as a “staging area” for construction.
The release also clarified that parking will be maintained on adjacent streets as construction allows. Also, during construction, the 2-5 a.m. parking restriction will be removed, but will be re-implemented upon project completion.
This parking restriction is needed, the release states, as it allows the Village to perform street cleaning and maintenance.
Another concern of residents was the need to “reduce speeding and rolling stops when people are trying to beat the lights.”
The release answered that while this project will not directly address the driver behaviors of “speeding” or “rolling stops” — as these are issues best handled through law enforcement and driver education — the new traffic signals being constructed at the intersections of South High Street with East Troy Pike and East Bridge Street will operate using a single traffic cabinet with traffic controller, allowing for smoother operation with the goal of reducing delay for drivers travelling on South High Street.
Also, the vehicle detection along South High Street at each new traffic signal will also reduce delay for motorists traveling along South High Street, the release states.
The following questions were also submitted, with village responses:
• “Why not limit parking to one side of the street, to allow wider lanes and better access to parked vehicles?” This alternative was considered, but was dismissed due to the loss of parking in this commercial district. The preferred alternative will provide 8-foot-wide parking lanes, a one foot increase over the existing parking lanes, for improved access to parked vehicles.
• “Could the village designate a parking area outside of the construction area and provide a shuttle service during construction?” No. Unfortunately, the project budget is not sufficient to offer this service. However, the village is committed to minimizing disruption to property and parking access as much as possible during construction.
• “Will Dodd Street be closed to cut through traffic as part of this project?” No. Although initially considered under this project, the required acquisition (including the possible removal of a residence) was considered an unacceptable impact to area property owners and residents.
• “Will the advance water and sewer work require road closures?” There may be temporary closures due to utility crossing construction, but the plan is to maintain at least one lane of traffic during construction.
• “Will the 5-foot-wide sidewalks extend to Dodd Street?” The sidewalk improvements will continue to the north side of the intersection at Dodd Street, but will not extend south of Dodd Street or along Dodd Street.
• “Will property owners be responsible for any project costs?” No. This project will be fully funded through village and federal funds. There will be no assessment to property owners.
• “Will the project include tree plantings?” No. No trees are planned. Other decorative amenities, such as planters, benches and trash receptacles, will be included in the project.