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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Designing downtown: Main Street design project may begin in 2015

  • Significant upgrades and construction may be underway on East Main Street beginning early 2015.

    Shawnee announced this week that a full set of plans for work on Main Street downtown between the intersections of North Oklahoma and North Beard avenues is ready for review by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
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  • Significant upgrades and construction may be underway on East Main Street beginning early 2015.
    Shawnee announced this week that a full set of plans for work on Main Street downtown between the intersections of North Oklahoma and North Beard avenues is ready for review by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
    Justin Erickson, the city’s community development director, said the work will be “phase two” of Shawnee Downtown Streetscape design project.
    The city first began planning on the streetscape project in 2001. “Phase one” of the project concluded in May 2005 with the completion of improvements along North Bell.
    “I know that the public is excited and ready for this and it’s kind of overdue in a sense, just because projects take so long to go through the grant process and get approved,” Erickson said.
    In addition to the Oklahoma Avenue and Beard Avenue intersections, other intersections in the five-block area set for improvement include North Philadelphia Avenue, North Union Avenue and North Broadway Avenue. 
    Main Street’s proposed new look will resemble the aesthetic improvements made along Bell Avenue several years ago.
    Specific upgrades include:
    • All new sidewalks.
    • Decorative features, including a brick inlay and stamped concrete borders.
    • Decorative lighting.
    • Heavy landscaping at each of the intersections.
    Erickson said this kind of facelift downtown is long overdue.
    “The streetscape there [on Main Street] really hasn’t had these types of improvements put in to it in probably 80 years,” he said.
    The department of transportation, which provided a grant to help fund the improvement project, must first approve of the city’s plans before construction can move forward.
    If the department finds that the plan complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act and meets grant guidelines, the city will be able to begin taking bids for the work.
    Erickson said the construction likely won’t begin until 2015 because the city uses Main Street for its annual Christmas parade.
    “We either needed to start the project early enough to get it done before the parade or start it right after,” he said.
    The city has already started working on its municipal pool project at the intersection of East Highland Street and North Union Avenue. The city estimates the pool project will be completed by the 2015 swim season.
    “Between the municipal pool project and streetscape, in 2015, that’s about $6 million worth of work downtown,” Erickson said.
    Erickson said the goal of the project is not only to beautify the downtown area, but to make the district more attractive for private investment. Recent developments on Bell Avenue, he said, are a good example of what these improvements can accomplish.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I hope existing businesses [on Main Street] will have their businesses improved and vacant storefronts will be occupied and will be contributing to the community,” he said.
    “Phase three” of the streetscape project would include improvements along Broadway and Union Avenues. Erickson said he did not expect work to begin on these areas for several more years.

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