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November 28, 2012

City officials celebrate reopening of Main Street

Traffic welcomed in all five lanes, just in time for the holidays

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
City officials celebrate reopening of Main Street
Mayor Stuart Bikson and City Council members Kim Russell, Cathy Daldin and Steve Sage move the construction barrels from Main Street to signify the opening of all five lanes during an informal barrel moving ceremony Nov. 21.

ROCHESTER — After seven months of construction, all five lanes of Main Street have officially opened — a signal that the Main Street Makeover is practically complete.

The purpose of the $7.6 million project was to reconstruct Main Street from the Clinton River Bridge to the Paint Creek Bridge, improve water service to the area and add streetscape improvements to enhance the overall downtown experience, according to city officials. The largest component of the project was the complete reconstruction of Main Street — also known as Rochester Road, or M-150 — from the Clinton River bridge to the Paint Creek bridge, paid for and initiated by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Main Street — from Second to University — officially closed for reconstruction May 15 and reopened to traffic, one lane each direction, on July 17 — four days earlier than expected. Crews remained ahead of schedule and were able to open all five lanes of Main Street just before rush hour traffic Nov. 21, two days earlier than expected.

City officials — including Rochester City Manager Jaymes Vettraino, Mayor Stuart Bikson and council members Jeffrey Cuthbertson, Cathy Daldin, Steve Sage and Kim Russell — gathered at the corner of Fourth and Main Nov. 21 for an informal “barrel moving” ceremony to remove the last of the barrels from the road.

“We’ve really been blessed with great weather throughout the summer, and to open two days early is just a little bonus for Thanksgiving,” Vettraino said during the ceremony. “This isn’t a ribbon cutting, this isn’t the grand opening, there’s still fit and finish that has to be done on the project, but today is a really, really special day because we’re getting our five lanes back.”

Only a few components of the Main Street Makeover have yet to be crossed off the to-do list — including the installation of the “hook and bell” lights, which will be installed during the next couple of weeks, and the display case for the old cistern discovered in front of O’Connor’s Public House. Vettraino said the city, along with the Rochester-Avon Historical Society and the Rochester Historical Commission, is in the process of designing educational signage and a clear piece of material that will actually lie in the sidewalk and will allow people to look down into the old cistern — which can’t be completed until the spring.

“Then, it’s a punch list that will be developed by MDOT and the city, whether it’s a chipped piece of concrete or something that needs to be cleaned, or chipped paint on a pole, so we’ll develop that over the next month and then we’ll have the real ribbon cutting,” he said.

Bikson said the City Council, city staff, the DDA and the crews put a lot of work in on the Main Street Makeover.

“Thank you to everybody who worked so hard on this. It was a great project and we persevered. I think it looks great,” he said.

The community has also really been supportive of the project, according to city officials.

“We really appreciate the patience of residents, the patience of visitors and especially our business owners — they just did a phenomenal job throughout the whole project, being really supportive,” Vettraino said.

When Rochester Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Kristi Trevarrow put a post on the DDA’s Facebook page alerting the community that the road was going to be opening, she said people were extremely excited about it.

“The post had over 300 likes and 30-some shares, so it’s just been great; people are really excited and ready to come back downtown,” she said.

While Trevarrow admitted it was “very refreshing” to remove the barrels from the road, she still had The Big, Bright Light Show on her mind, following the barrel moving ceremony. The reopening of Main Street happened just a few days before the 40th Anniversary celebration of Lagniappe and the kickoff of the seventh annual Big, Bright Light Show Nov. 26.

“It’s exciting, but at the same time, its like getting ready for guests to come over because we’re getting ready for Big, Bright Light Show on Monday, so I’m looking forward to Tuesday when everything’s over and we can just enjoy downtown and the lights,” she said at the ceremony.

While the project is coming to an end, Vettraino said a number of the historical items crews uncovered during the Main Street Makeover would be permanently on display inside City Hall.

“All of them are being cataloged by our Historical Commission, and we’re working with the library on a display, so we will probably have a permanent display at City Hall of some of the items, but then we’ll utilize different areas in the city to display the other ones,” Vettraino added.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.