Downtown sidewalk project work ahead of schedule


Dec. 22, 2010 at 6:22 a.m.

Work is wrapping up on the sidewalk improvement project in downtown Victoria and paving of the bumpy streets will follow.

"They are progressing along very much ahead of schedule," said Lynn Short, the city's director of public works. "Early on, that contractor decided to bring on a second crew and has basically been getting it done about twice as quick as we envisioned."

The contractor, Pasadena-based SER Construction Partners, has until December 2011 to finish the work. But Short said he thinks workers will complete the curb, gutter and sidewalk portion of the project by the end of February.

SER is working on Main Street, where it intersects Forrest and Commercial streets. Short said that leaves two blocks of sidewalk on the west side of Main between Constitution and Juan Linn streets to be completed.

Darrell Seibert, with the city's engineering department, said details are still being worked out on how the city will deal with the high sidewalk at Constitution and Main streets. He said it will depend on whether crews find anything beneath the sidewalk that interferes with the plans.

But Seibert said the city will make whatever changes necessary to make sure the sidewalk meets federal handicap requirements.

He said the central downtown streets will then be paved with a hot mix surface beginning in March. "I think they're going to be done by summertime, the way it's looking now."

Little Gem magnolia trees have been planted in flower beds in the brick-paver sidewalk around De Leon Plaza. Savannah holly, crape myrtle and mountain laurel will be sprinkled throughout flower beds in the rest of the new sidewalks.

Short said he doesn't anticipate the root systems of the trees causing problems with the new sidewalks, partly because an irrigation system was installed to water the trees.

"The varieties were picked by a landscape architect that was hired by Urban Engineering, which is our engineer on the project," he said. "The varieties are what are typically used in areas like this where you're planting in infrastructure."

Laurie Garretson, the Advocate's garden columnist, agreed the Little Gem magnolia trees should not damage the sidewalk. "Maybe 80 years down the road, if they're still there, there might be some problems."

Joe Janak, the Victoria County extension agent, said he thinks the magnolia trees will do well for years.

"If irrigation is provided, the roots will remain in that area," he said. "At some point, though, they have no other place to grow roots because everything is covered up with sidewalk or pavement."

He estimated that might be a problem in 15 or 20 years.



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