Phase One of a plan to repair and improve historic downtown sidewalks and streets will not get under way today, as city officials had originally hoped.
In an e-mail sent to merchants on Friday, Downtown Bethlehem Association Manager Samantha Schwartz said the city and the construction manager, Grace Industries, still need to complete “a sequence of construction, a traffic control plan and a detailed timeline.”
The project will begin within two weeks if the plan is evaluated and the details are finalized and the project can be completed before the start of Musikfest on August 3, Schwartz said.
If the project cannot be started within the next two weeks – June 18 – then the project will not begin until after Musikfest ends on August 12.
The initial phase of the $3.2 million project is improvements in the vicinity of Main and W. Market streets where new brick pavers and granite trim will be installed to replace the existing sidewalks and streets. The plan also includes the addition of a 50-by-30 foot granite Bethlehem star at the center of the intersection.
A $300,000 contribution from Liberty Property Trust – which owns a downtown office building – and a $50,000 state grant is paying for much of the cost of the initial phase. Mayor John Callahan said he intends to contribute $250,000 from the city’s next capital improvement bond.
Bob Kiel, vice president of Liberty Property Trust, and Neville Gardner, chairman of the DBA, is hoping to convince other downtown stakeholders to invest in the project and help foot the bill for downtown sidewalk improvements and street repairs.